Dec 22

WEEK 1: With the Bills trailing, 28-24, and time running out, Flutie scrambles toward the right sideline and encounters a wall of defenders. The resourceful Peter Pan-in-shoulder-pads hurls a lateral across the field to an unattended Peerless Price, who easily goes the final 55 yards for a winning touchdown to be forever known as Musical-Chairs-QB City Miracle.

The Titans protest, but instant replay shows Flutie’s lateral to be legal. It also reveals something strange in the shape of a pepper mill stuffed in Flutie’s sock.

WEEK 2: Whiny figure skater Nancy Kerrigan and HBO’s leg-breaking crime boss Tony Soprano perform a national anthem duet, then swap cartilage and patella tendon tales at midfield with Jamal Anderson and Terrell Davis. In this reunion of Super Bowl 33 running backs, both of whom missed most of last season with serious knee injuries, Davis’ Broncos defeat Anderson’s Falcons, 5 Mile-High Salutes to 3 Dirty Birds.

WEEK 3: Dan Snyder, owner of the 2-0 Redskins, fires coach Norv Turner during the second quarter of the Monday Night game against the Cowboys after Washington’s offense goes three-and-out on its first three possessions. Snyder installs defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes as head coach pro tem and demands that Jeff George replace Brad Johnson as the ‘Skins QB.

WEEK 4: Buccaneers receiver Keyshawn Johnson gets reacquainted with his old teammates when the Jets visit Tampa Bay. Johnson fumbles away a reception late in the game, allowing the Jets to recover deep in their own end, then run out the dock on a 12-6 showcase of defense and kickers. After the game diminutive Jets receiver Wayne Chrebet tells the media: “We want to thank Keyshawn for giving us the damn ball.”

WEEK 5: Kurt Warner is intercepted five times during a loss to San Diego as the Rams’ quarterback continues an early-season slump while his wife and inspiration, Brenda, serves a one-year ban from the Trans World Dome. Team owner Georgia Frontiere boiled over when she was informed that she got less TV face time than the camera-magnetic Mrs. Warner during last season’s Super Bowl.

WEEK 6: As the 49ers continue to pay the bill for salary-cap deferments in the ’90s, team management comes under fire from the league about its latest rumored accounting maneuver: paying signing bonuses to a youthful squad in Pokemon cards.

WEEK 7: Bill Romanowski is late for Denver’s game against the visiting Browns. The Broncos linebacker arrived at the cash register at Wal-Mart and discovered he forgot his health insurance card and cash for the prescription deductible on his pregame meal.

WEEK 8: A PBS documentary team follows Patriots coach Bill Belichick 24/7. Belichick’s idea of “letting loose” is ignoring the rinse-and-repeat step on his shampoo directions because it allows more time for breaking down game tape. By kickoff on Sunday against the Colts, members of the PBS camera crew are begging producers for reassignment to the more rousing caterpillar-to-butterfly documentary.

WEEK 9: U.S. Senate candidate Hillary Clinton makes an election-eve visit to Buffalo to stump at a Bills-Jets game. Wearing a blue Buffalo jersey with Eric Moulds’ number and the white helmet of Jets’ fanatic Fireman Eddie, Mrs. Clinton is asked where her allegiance falls. “I did marry a Bill,” she says, “but I understand what it’s like being a Jet, you know, representing New York despite coming from another state.”

henningWEEK 10: After Cowboys defensive lineman Chad Hennings is flagged for roughing the passer, he returns to the huddle and is lectured by his linemates: fresh-from-rehab Leon Lett, bipolar-disorder patient Alonzo Spellman and manic-depressive Dimitrius Underwood.

Underwood: “Don’t get too down on yourself, Chad.”

Spellman: “Yeah, and try to keep control of your emotions, Chad.”

Lett: “Chad, buddy, it’s beginning to look like you have a problem with abusing dru … dru … dropback quarterbacks.”

WEEK 11: Raiders rookie kicker Sebastian Janikowski converts his seventh field goal of the game-an NFL-record 70-yarder–with two seconds left that lifts visiting Oakland to a one-point win over the Broncos on Monday Night Football. That prompts Dennis Miller to exclaim: “Wow! That had more leg on it than the bar in Coyote Ugly.”

WEEK 12: No time to shave off three weeks of untended facial hair, Jason Sehorn is rushed back into the Giants’ lineup after a sabbatical to take part in the CBS reality-based TV event Survivor III. The cornerback is looking thin, feeling hungry and smelling like the bottom of a seafood restaurant dumpster in late July. The Lions’ receivers are dizzy from the stench, and Sehorn returns his third interception of the afternoon for a game-winning touchdown.

WEEK 13: Continuing their rebound from an 0-9 start, the Bengals defeat the Steelers for their third straight victory-and first in spiffy new Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati fans celebrate by tearing down the goal posts, and Bengals management rewards coach Bruce Coslet with a contract extension for two more seasons.

WEEK 14: Several teams straggle to operate their so-called West Coast offenses after a Federal judge shuts down Bill Walsh’s Napster-like website, where teams went to download the latest and hottest offensive plays and formations from the Confucius of the intermediate passing game.

WEEK 15: Four touchdowns and 223 rushing yards in a victory at San Francisco are not enough for Saints running back Ricky Williams. After his biggest day in the NFL, Williams makes a brief stop on the way home in Las Vegas, where he meets and quickly weds Darva Conger.

The impulsive nuptial lasts only until Conger gets a look at the disastrous contract Williams’ ex-agent negotiated for the former Heisman Trophy winner before his rookie season. As grounds for the divorce, Conger claims: “I got stuck with the only NFL rookie who isn’t a millionaire.”

WEEK 16: The starless, struggling Dolphins attempt to bolster home attendance by honoring the Jimmy Johnson em in Miami’s pro football history. Children attending the game receive commemoratives such as the Zach Thomas wind-and-go, the Tony Martin laundry bag and the limited-edition Lawrence Phillips Beanie Baby. A retired Dan Marino joins the ex-coach on the field for the ceremonial coin toss, but Johnson insists that the future Hall of Fame quarterback just hand it off.

WEEK 17: Coach Wade Phillips of the 15-0 AFC East champion Bills announces that Rob Johnson will replace healthy starter Doug Flutie at quarterback. The Bills then lose their final regular-season game and first-round playoff game.

AFC PLAYOFFS: Another brilliant regular season is wasted yet again by the Jaguars with a loss to the Chargers and NFL Man of the Year Ryan Leaf in the conference semifinals.

Only hours after the upset, National Enquirer photos reveal Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin supping with notorious Notre Dame alum Regis Philbin in the shadow of Touchdown Jesus in South Bend, Ind. Coughlin resigns from the Jaguars on Monday. The next day he is introduced as both the football coach at Notre Dame and the new co-host of Regis’ morning television show.

NFC PLAYOFFS: An apparent Vikings touchdown pass from Daunte Culpepper to Randy Moss is ruled incomplete during the fourth quarter of the NFC championship game against the visiting Panthers. The officials spend 10 momentum-killing minutes examining the replays as if they were looking at the Zapruder film. They meet, discuss, phone a friend and exhaust their final lifeline by polling the audience before giving their final answer. (Not that it matters, because they still don’t get it right.) The play stands as called, and the Panthers win the game.

SUPER BOWL 35: After last year, no wild ending and no team’s rise to champion out of the quagmire of parity can surprise the NFL, including the Steelers’ 23-21 victory over the Panthers, thanks to the heroics of backup quarterback Kent Graham. A stumbling scramble through Carolina arm tackles and a fully extended lunge by Graham as time expires barely gets the last long yard to the winning touchdown.

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