Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Tuesday Morning Quarterback: NFL Week #12 Winners and Losers

The beat goes on, but at the moment we're no closer to declaring anyone officially in the playoffs yet. What is official is that Monday Night Football's Tony Kornholer remains an alien presence on the airwaves. And we finally figured out why this sports media loser is a worthless POS. It's not that he doesn't really know anything about football (even though he doesn't), or the fact that his dour personality and his "Entertainment Tonight" mentality are both unappealing and lame-o. No, what's really very obvious and why he should be replaced immediately, is that Kornholer is not a fan. He's basically a media whore who ended up in sports. Kudos to Jaws Jaworski for shutting down Kornholer's attempt to make a Brett Favre-related soap opera out of Aaron Rodgers' QB play for Green Bay. Yesterday's news, Kornholer. Ya putz.

New York Jets 34, Tennessee 13—Titans (10-1) finally take a hit, as Brett Favre and the 8-3 Jets supposedly make a statement, winning their second straight key road game and maintaining their one-game AFC East lead over the Patriots. The Jets had a varied offensive game plan, and they executed it well, thus keeping the Titans’ defense on the field for more than 40 minutes. Of course, if the Titans’ offense had showed up, it might’ve been a game, and it’s less clear if the Jets’ D didn’t simply benefit from the lax play of Titans receivers (who dropped a bunch of catchable passes) and running backs (Chris Johnson fumbled at a critical juncture, and LenDale White was MIA). Favre played very well—discernably vintage, actually—but the Jets still have a lot to prove.

Pittsburgh 27, Cincinnati 10—It was a game for a while, then it became academic. Bengals, now 1-9-1, are pathetic. Steelers, now 8-3, are atop the AFC North, but only by a game over the surprising Ravens. And their offense looks like it needs a tuneup.

Baltimore 36, Philadelphia 7—Now 7-4, the Ravens kept pace with division-rival Steelers, thanks to a balanced offense led by rookie QB Joe Flacco (12/26, 183 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs) and an opportunistic defense that grabbed four interceptions off Donovan McNabb and his second-half replacement, second-year-man Kevin Kolb. The Eagles, now 5-5-1, looked startlingly inept, but they’re still not technically out of the wild-card hunt. McNabb’s days as a starter could be numbered, but no matter who plays QB, the miracle finish seems remote.

Houston 16, Cleveland 6—Parting is such sweet sorrow, Romeo. This might be the game that signals the effective end of the Romeo Crennel regime in Cleveland. Now 4-7, the Browns couldn’t build on last week’s Monday night thriller victory over the Bills, losing at home to a Houston squad that’s notoriously bad on the road. Browns savior QB Brady Quinn wasn’t that, and he was replaced by erstwhile starter Derek Anderson. The duo combined for 13/32, 145 yards, 0 TDs and 3 INTs. Sage Rosenfels put up some halfway decent quarterbacking numbers for the 4-7 Texans, rookie RB Steve Slaton continues to be productive, and WR Andre Johnson had 10 catches for 116 yards.

Tampa Bay 38, Detroit 20—The Lions are 0-11 after blowing a 17-0 lead, and they now head into a Thanksgiving Day game versus the 10-1 Titans. Their quarterbacks in this game were Daunte Culpepper and Drew Stanton, neither of whom seems likely to rescue them from winless freefall. Rookie RB Kevin Smith gained 86 yards on 16 carries, so that’s hopeful, but when you yield four sacks, two interceptions and two fumbles to the opposing defense, you just get further behind the 8-ball. In this case, the Bucs are playing pretty well on both sides of the ball, and once they took a 21-17 lead into halftime it was all but over. Bucs QB Jeff Garcia continues his efficient winning ways, and ageless Warrick Dunn gained 90 yards on only 14 carries. With the win, the 8-3 Bucs tied the Panthers for first place in the NFC South.

Atlanta 45, Carolina 28—In the NFC, only the Giants and the Cardinals have scored more points than the 7-4 Falcons, who continue to impress with a varied offensive attack led by rookie QB Matt Ryan and an aggressive defense. The Falcons exhibit a remarkable can-do spirit, and their turnaround from last year’s disastrous campaign is downright inspirational. Now they’re breathing down the necks of both the Panthers and the Bucs for the NFC South lead. The 8-3 Panthers really didn’t play badly in this one: They had no turnovers, and they passed and ran with efficiency. They simply got outlasted by a very determined squad. Mike Smith for NFC Coach of the Year.

Buffalo 54, Kansas City 31—Bills QB Trent Edwards regained his form in this one—24/32, 273 yards, 2 TDs—which was over by the third quarter. The 1-10 Chiefs show signs of life, but they’re simply too young, and too unformed, to get over the hump. Tight end Tony Gonzalez had 10 catches for 113 yards and a touchdown, but it must be frustrating to be as good as he is and always be surrounded by failure. The Bills improved to 6-5, helped to eradicate the memory of their previous tough Monday night home loss to Cleveland, and kept pace with the Jets and Patriots in the AFC East.

New England 48, Miami 28—The Matt Cassel story keeps getting better. Dude spends his entire college career backing up Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart at USC. Then he carries Tom Brady’s jockstrap in Foxboro till he’s suddenly pressed into service with a huge question mark over his head and the Patriots’ playoff chances on the line. So after a stellar, record-setting day—30/43, 415 yards, 3 TDs (all to Randy Moss) and thus becoming the first Patriots QB to ever throw for 400+ yards in two consecutive games—Cassel has the Pats at 7-4 and stalking the AFC East-leading Jets. The Dolphins dropped to 6-5 after gamely putting up a fight, including some actual on-field fighting that got fairly intense as their chances slipped away. But it’s already a good season for the Fins, who were 1-15 a year ago, and they’re not technically out of anything yet.

Dallas 35, San Francisco 22—Cowboys stifle the 49ers’ running attack, and QB Tony Romo fires three TD passes, including one to Terrell Owens, who racks up 213 receiving yards. This one was a game the host Cowboys should’ve won, and mission accomplished raises their record to 7-4. The 3-8 49ers got a decent performance out of QB Shaun Hill but were simply outclassed.

Washington 20, Seattle 17—Skins avoid the pitfalls of a potential “trap” game in coach Jim Zorn’s homecoming to Seattle, where he starred as a Seahawks QB three decades ago and served as an assistant under Mike Holmgren in the recent era. Playing through injury, Skins RB Clinton Portis gained 143 yards on the ground, and QB Jason Campbell returned to his error-free ways. The 2-9 Seahawks can’t do anything well enough, and it was another mediocre outing for QB Matt Hasselbeck. Skins, now 7-4 and tied for second in the NFC East with the Cowboys, host the division-leading Giants next week.

Chicago 27, St. Louis 3—The Rams are 2-9, and QB Trent Green threw four interceptions after replacing the injured Marc Bulger. The 6-5 Bears held the Rams to 14 yards rushing while piling up 201 yards of their own on the ground, led by rookie Matt Forte’s 132 yards. This one was over by halftime. Bears don’t falter on the road, and continue to share the NFC North lead.

Minnesota 30, Jacksonville 12—You know the Jags, now 4-7, are pretty much done for when they lose badly at home even while holding their opponent to 226 total yards. Fumbles and interceptions did ’em in, and a team once noted for a hellacious running attack gained only 35 yards on the ground. The Vikes moved to 6-5, taking advantage of the mistakes and utilizing their own excellent D, though they’ll have to get more than 104 yards out of their passing attack if they expect to beat anyone good down the road.

Oakland 31, Denver 10—Even good Raiders teams have trouble winning in Denver. For this disorganized bunch to come to the Mile High City and put the hurt on Mike Shanahan & Co. means the world must’ve shifted on its axis a little. Well, what it really means is that the Broncos (6-5) are simply not to be trusted. Their unpredictable offense and troubled defense guarantee that every game’s a crap shoot. They still lead the woeful AFC West by two games over the catatonic Chargers, but they better watch out. Tomorrow is not promised. The Raiders are now 3-8, getting a remarkably efficient performance out of QB JaMarcus Russell (10/11, 152 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs), 107 yards on the ground from RB Justin Fargas, plus a serious Ashley Lelie sighting, the ex-Bronc WR torching his former team for four catches for 92 yards and a TD.

Indianapolis 23, San Diego 20—More trouble for Chargers coach Norv Turner, whose team is now a disappointing 4-7 with no clear-cut answers as to why their malaise persists. They lost this one at home, despite decent offensive numbers from QB Philip Rivers and RB LaDainian Tomlinson. Simply put, the Colts came up big when they had to, and Peyton Manning hasn’t lost his ability to frustrate opposing defenses. The Colts moved to 7-4 with their fourth straight win and appear to have regained their swagger. They even gained a game on the AFC South-leading Titans, who finally fell from the unbeaten ranks. Marvin Harrison and Joseph Addai made serious contributions in this one, which is definitely good news for Colts coach Tony Dungy.

New York Giants 37, Arizona 29—Not a bad effort from the 7-4 Cardinals against the defending Super Bowl champs. But every time they’d threaten to make a game of it, the Giants—even minus bruising RB Brandon Jacobs, out with a knee injury—upped the ante with an Eli Manning TD pass. Peyton’s little brother threw for three scores and got an assist from sub RB Derrick Ward (69 yards, 1 TD) and K John Carney (three field goals). The 10-1 Giants now head to Washington for an NFC East rematch with the Redskins. Cardinals QB Kurt Warner threw for more than 300 yards for his fifth straight game, but he also threw a critical interception and fumbled once. The Cards’ running game was nonexistent. Their NFC West lead is secure, with their nearest rival the 3-8 49ers. The team travels to Philadelphia for a Thanksgiving Day game versus the Eagles.

New Orleans 51, Green Bay 29—The Saints put on a huge offensive display in running their record to 6-5 and keeping their playoff hopes alive in the ultra-competitive NFC South. QB Drew Brees threw four TD passes, including two of 70 yards, and veteran, oft-injured running back Deuce McAllister set a Saints record with his 54th career touchdown. But maybe most importantly, the Saints might have found a younger, healthier, more consistent every-down RB in second-year man Pierre Thomas, who gained 87 yards on 15 carries and scored two TDs. The Packers were very much in this one at the half, 24-21, but they were swamped by a 21-point New Orleans third quarter, and that was pretty much it. The Pack are now 5-6, dropping a game behind NFC North co-leaders Chicago and Minnesota.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Tuesday Morning Quarterback: NFL Week #11 Winners and Losers

Time to check in on the progress, or lack thereof, of NFL teams. Maybe four squads—Titans, Giants, Panthers, Cardinals—can be said to be definitely zeroing in on playoff berths. Otherwise, there are serious shades of gray still left out there. There are plenty of contenders, but an equal number of pretenders. Here’s a summary of what everyone did this past weekend, and where they all look to be heading.

Tennessee 24, Jacksonville 14—The Titans continue to defy skeptics, running their record to 10-0 and maintaining a four-game lead over the Colts in the AFC South. Their D has weathered a few injuries and keeps performing at a killer level. Opponents have scored only 131 points this year. The offense still seems less than imposing, yet they’re getting the job done, proving once again that with a fabulous offensive line all things are possible. Now 4-6, the Jaguars may be finished. Some folks (including yours truly) had ’em pegged for the Super Bowl. There’s still plenty of talent there, but they just don’t look like the intimidating group they once were. And despite a long-term contract, coach Jack Del Rio has some explaining to do.

New York Jets 34, New England 31—An overtime win in Foxboro is huge for Favre & Co. Jets (7-3) now lead the AFC East (by a slim one game), with the team playing balanced, aggressive football. Favre isn’t always great, but there’s still magic in that indefatigable warrior body. At 6-4, the Pats aren’t out of anything, of course, and it certainly wasn’t QB Matt Cassel’s fault they lost. He threw for 400 yards and a dramatic game-tying TD as regulation expired. The Patriots suffer inconsistency, and injuries have had a lot to do with that. Coach Bill Belichick is in the unfamiliar position of having to reach deeper into his bag of motivational tricks. One serious problem: Way more competition in the division.

Miami 17, Oakland 15—Four straight wins put the surprise Dolphins at 6-4 and vying for an AFC East title. We might add that they’re led by Jets “castoff” Chad Pennington at QB, still savvy, smart and efficient under new coach Tony Sparano’s variable offense, which includes the “wildcat” wrinkle that has given new potency to the running back duo of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. The Fins may go belly-up eventually, but they’re clearly not the 1-15 squad from ’07. The Raiders are 2-8 and going nowhere fast. In truth, they showed improvement early in the season, even in defeat. The team does have some talent, and if head coach Lane Kiffin hadn’t been fired, they might’ve even exceeded last season’s total of four wins. (Like, maybe five.) Out-to-lunch owner Al Davis took care of that, however. What’s amazing is that there are three teams worse than them at this juncture.

Dallas 14, Washington 10 —Big road win for the ’boys ties them with the Skins for second place in the NFC East at 6-4. Tony Romo returns to action and makes the important plays. Skins blow a big opportunity to stick it to their longtime rival and announce their arrival as a team to be seriously reckoned with. Their D looked tough, but QB Jason Campbell exhibited some negative recidivist tendencies, though maybe it was Dallas’ D that should get the credit. Hard-fought contest scrambles the NFC playoff picture a little further.

Pittsburgh 11, San Diego 10—Okay, well, there’s something definitely wrong with the Chargers. The vaunted offense was a popgun in a game where their D finally showed up. Philip Rivers throws two INTs, and LT again posts mediocre rushing numbers. The miracle is that, with their 4-6 record, they’re still within shouting distance of the AFC West-leading Broncos. This team was 11-5 in ’07 and finally won a playoff game for the first time in a long while. Is the backward slide Norv’s fault? The 7-3 Steelers grabbed a one-game lead in the AFC North. They may have eked out this win, but they moved the ball on offense every which way, their D still looks impressive, and if they dodged a bullet, so be it. Still the odds-on favorite for the division title.

New York Giants 30, Baltimore 10—Supposedly, the Ravens’ defense was to provide the Giants a stiff test here. It never happened. The Giants average 29.2 points a game, and their defense is as stingy as the offense is versatile. Now 9-1, Tom Coughlin’s troops are the class of the conference, and they’ll be tough to stop. The Ravens drop to 6-4, but with rookie QB Joe Flacco they’re still a good story and only one game behind Pittsburgh. Definitely in the hunt.

Green Bay 37, Chicago 3—Packers scramble the NFC North but good with this laugher over the Bears. Both teams are now 5-5, tied with the Vikings for first place in a division race that should go down to the wire, mainly because not one of these teams can assert any consistency and their out-of-division schedules are tough. Bears QB Kyle Orton hobbled around on his bum ankle, and the Packers defense was all over the field making plays. Packers RB Ryan Grant returned to form with 145 yards on the ground.

Tampa Bay 19, Minnesota 13—Up-and-down Vikes miss a chance to take undisputed possession of first place in the NFC North. Buccaneers (7-3) hang tough behind QB Jeff Garcia and keep pace with the NFC South-leading Panthers. Bucs travel to Detroit next weekend to take on the winless Lions.

Carolina 31, Detroit 22—Pathetic Lions (0-10) put up a good fight on the road—behind QB Daunte Culpepper, of all people—but Panthers’ running game proves too formidable. Now 8-2, Panthers aren’t a complete surprise, yet their division lead over Tampa Bay is but a single game. Carolina travels to Atlanta this coming weekend for what shapes up to be a big NFC South tilt.

Denver 24, Atlanta 20—Hard-fought battle in Atlanta proves one thing: Never underestimate a Mike Shanahan team. Broncos didn’t really put up spectacular numbers here, but they upped their record to 6-4 behind a gutsy performance by QB Jay Cutler, whose moxie and strong right arm often make him look like the new Favre. Falcons played hard, which they’ve done all season, but dropped to 6-4. Even so, they’re in the thick of the NFC wild-card race and still have a shot at a divisional crown.

San Francisco 35, St. Louis 16—That’s the Rams for ya: Lose four games, win two games, lose four more games. Their aggregate 2-8 (2-4 now under interim coach Jim Haslett) is sad indeed for a team with some definitely legit talent. But not only did they lose this game against the similarly underachieving division foe 49ers, they got slammed with injuries to key offensive linemen. Which means QB Marc Bulger can expect to spend the remainder of the season running even farther for his life. RB Steven Jackson didn’t play in his third game out of the last four due to his own nagging injury. All of which made for good news for Niners coach Mike Singletary, who tallied his first ever victory in the NFL. Hard to know what it all means for the rest of the Niners’ season, but now, at 3-7, they’ve assumed sole possession of second place in the NFC West. QB Shaun Hill put up strong numbers, and RB Frank Gore gained over 100 yards. Reality check next weekend: road trip to Dallas.

Arizona 26, Seattle 20—This isn’t how Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren ever envisioned his farewell season in Seattle. His team is 2-8. The return of injured QB Matt Hasselbeck was inauspicious (three INTs), and the leading rusher was Julius Jones with 19 yards on 10 carries. Ultimately, even two fourth-quarter TDs by T. J. Duckett, pulling the Hawks within six of the Cardinals, probably just offered a sadly false hope. The wheels are pretty much off this bus. Meanwhile, Arizona’s 37-year-old “Energizer Bunny” QB Kurt Warner (assisted by his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ) threw for 395 yards—his franchise-record fourth straight 300-yard game (move over, Charley Johnson, Jim Hart and Neil Lomax, not to mention Gary Hogeboom, Tom Tupa and Timm Rosenbach). This Cardinals squad is wafting in the heady aroma of a 7-3 record for the first time in more than 30 years, and it puts them straight on course for their—get this—second winning season since 1984. (Heck, even the Lions haven’t been that inept; they have six winning seasons since then.) Here’s another stat: Since 1948, when they were in Chicago, the Cards have played in a grand total of five playoff games, losing all but one. If they grab that NFC West crown, they might make head coach Ken Whisenhunt King of the Desert. (Don’t blow it, Ken.)

New Orleans 30, Kansas City 20—Apparently, the Saints do want to stay in the playoff race. They pulled to 5-5 with this convincing-enough defeat of the woeful 1-9 Chiefs. But Drew Brees & Co. have their work cut out for them, since even at .500 they’re last in the NFC South. The wild card is their best, most reasonable hope, but they’ll probably have to win five more games and pray for divine intervention. There are currently five other non-division-leading teams in the NFC with better records, and this doesn’t look like a lucky year for inconsistency. As for the Chiefs, well, Larry Johnson returned to tally 67 yards on 19 carries (eh!), and Tyler Thigpen seems to be establishing himself as the best Chiefs QB on two functioning legs. The Chiefs will win another game (but don’t quote me on that).

Indianapolis 33, Houston 27—Colts rediscover their potent offense, win a game they have to win, raise their record to 6-4 and bolster their wild-card chances considerably. The Texans are definitely the best 3-7 team in the league. Bad luck and an unforgiving schedule have conspired against them. They were in this one till a late Sage Rosenfels interception short-circuited their hopes for last-minute heroics. Rookie RB Steve Slaton shredded the Colts D for 156 rushing yards. Houston has yet to play the Packers and the Bears, so they could ruin somebody’s postseason plans.

Philadelphia 13, Cincinnati 13—So apparently, Philly QB Donovan McNabb was unaware that you could have a tie in the NFL. So after his Eagles (5-4-1) and Ryan Fitzpatrick’s Bengals (1-8-1) slugged it out for an extra quarter with no resolution to the game, he mentally prepared to play yet another quarter. Sorry, Donovan. That took cahones to admit your ignorance to the press. Especially for a guy that’s been in the league since 1999. Whatever. A tie is like kissing your sister, but it’s better than being spurned by the homely fat girl with bad acne (i.e., losing). And who knows? It might actually work in the Eagles’ favor come wild-card time. Former Bears RB Cedric Benson returned to form for Cincy: 42 yards on 23 carries (1.8 avg.). Thanks, CB: You had us worried with that 104-yard performance on Nov. 2.

Cleveland 29, Buffalo 27—This Monday night game was very exciting, but it's hard to know what it means in the bigger picture. Either the Browns (4-6) played gutty, or the Bills—now 5-5 after a 4-0 start—are coming apart at the seams. Buffalo QB Trent Edwards' lackluster game—including three INTs—undermined RB Marshawn Lynch's 119-yard effort and the Bills' domination of time of possession. Meanwhile, Brady Quinn won his first game as a starter for the Browns, though his numbers weren't much—14-of-36 for 185 yards. The Browns' timely D and Phil Dawson's late 56-yard field goal won it for 'em, but it could have easily gone the other way if the Bills' Rian Lindell hadn't missed a makeable 47-yarder at game's end. Browns coach Romeo Crennel lives to fight another day, but the win may only have forestalled the inevitable. His record since 2005 is 22-36, and only a near-miracle gets his team into the playoffs. As for the Bills, their fast start keeps them in contention, but suddenly they're last in the AFC East. Head coach Dick Jauron's cartoon-bubble thought: "It wasn't supposed to go this way..."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

MNF Still Sucks, But It's Not the Game That's to Blame

Did you watch Monday Night Football on ESPN the other night? Did you hear Tony Kornholer being a consummate, uninformed and boring ass? Did you cringe a little when Mike Tirico went into his high-pitched "soft-male" pseudo-thoughtful observations? Did you think Ron Jaworski (aka "Jaws") went overboard on the macho-man scale, with his "insider" meathead talk about how coaches who are former NFL players can relate in a special way with their young charges? (Don't know about you, Jaws, but I'd rather have Vince Lombardi, Joe Gibbs or Bill Belichick—none of whom played in the NFL—helming my team over Mike Singletary.) How about Floozy Kolber's postgame Q-and-A with Kurt Warner, yet another round of asinine reportage based on the timeless modern-day stupid female inquiry, "How did that make you feel?" That question gave Warner the opening he always looks for: a chance to thank Jesus Christ his Lord and Savior for all things good in his life. Ugh.

Then there was lizardlike Stuart Scott, who, in the postgame video highlight analysis, twice called the Cardinals the 49ers—or was it vice-versa?—and was otherwise almost totally lost in narrating the plays. You really sucked, Stu. Emmitt Smith continues to amaze with his lack of knowledge of basic English. Nice guy, embarrassing reporter. (Move over, Jerome Bettis.)

Which left the only guy worth his sports media salt, Steve Young, sitting in the middle of the on-field dais, muttering to himself about the 49ers' absolutely pitiful final play-call, which sealed their defeat. Young had things to say, but Scott handled the host duties so badly that the moment was lost.

Does anyone in a position of authority at ESPN watch this stuff? If not, I'm throwing my hat in the ring for the newly created position of on-air quality control specialist. ESPN's a gazillion-dollar operation, and this is what we get. Sad stuff.

Lincecum Gets Cy; Lidge Gets Jobbed

Congrats to Tim Lincecum, the amazing, and highly entertaining, San Francisco Giants hurler who won the National League Cy Young Award on Tuesday. Lincecum deserved this honor, and it's nice to see the baseball writers paying attention to high achievement on a team that otherwise achieved little and merited little attention. Lincecum is awesome, without doubt. Cases could have been made for others, such as the DBacks' Brandon Webb, the Mets' Johan Santana or even NL latecomer C. C. Sabathia of the Brewers. But based on sheer performance, Lincecum was the premier pitcher in the league.

Alas, Phillies shutdown reliever Brad Lidge got jobbed into the bargain, in that if it were any other year, he might have easily won the award, as dominating relievers occasionally do. The only solution to this problem is for the BBWAA to institute an official award for relief pitchers. Call it the Hoyt Wilhelm Award or something, and throw all the relievers in to that category and get 'em out of the CYA consideration.

For all you youngsters out there, Hall of Famer Wilhelm was in many ways the first modern specialist relief man (in which role he won 124 games, still the record for relief pitchers). He is recognized as the first pitcher to have saved 200 games in his career and the first pitcher to appear in 1,000 games. He is also one of the oldest players to have pitched; his final appearance was 16 days shy of his 50th birthday. (See Wilhelm's record at http://www.baseball-reference.com/w/wilheho01.shtml.)

Do they still have the Fireman of the Year Award? Or the Rolaids Relief Pitcher Award? Whatever... There should be a way to separate these two pitching disciplines so the highest achievers don't get overlooked.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Obama's Dream Team: Oprah, Athletes to Join in Cause to Save America

And now it is done. We’ve elected a president who claims that he plans to levy new taxes only on the wealthiest 5% of Americans. This is good. It guarantees money in the federal coffers, it will sustain the needs of the remaining 95% of us who are not so fortunate, and it appropriately penalizes a lot of people in America who have no earthly right to be that rich.

Like Oprah Winfrey. Where else but in America could a middle-brow, mediocre-minded person like Oprah get elevated to goddesslike status? That most fickle, random and nondiscriminating of financial vehicles—the media—has made her rich beyond the wildest dreams of any 100 average citizens. Without any intellectual prowess, Oprah has, besides commandeering a media empire of voracious proportions, even managed to become the arbiter of taste in American letters. Her opinion means more to book authors than does the combined critical acumen of the New York Times Book Review, the New Yorker, or the New York Review of Books. And how deliciously fortuitous that she operates from the new power center of the country: Chicago.

To be sure, Oprah Winfrey has money to burn. And trust me: She will not miss a few hundred million. Doubtless, given her hallowed status as modern-day saint, she will feel very good knowing that her spuriously gotten gains will go to ensuring health care for poorer folks all over the country, to making housing and education more affordable for all, and to help ease the credit and mortgage crunch. Not to mention helping to support our men and women in arms.

Oprah is an obvious target for the new president’s share-the-wealth ideas. But there are many other obscenely rich Americans that the new commander-in-chief should have in his sights.

The worlds of American sports and show business count among them thousands of individuals who are grossly overpaid for what they do. The new president, true to his word, surely won’t allow them to skate while Oprah does the heavy lifting.

Here’s a partial list of sports, movie and music figures who certainly fall into the 5% category. It’s time they did their duty in support of the plans of the new leader of the free world to make life bearable for all:

Quincy Jones, Bill Cosby, Chris Rock, Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Morgan Freeman, Spike Lee, P Diddy (or whatever he’s calling himself these days), Michael Jackson, Russell Simmons, Vanessa Williams, Will Smith, Jamie Fox, Prince, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Tracy McGrady, Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Jordan, Ken Griffey, Jr., LaDainian Tomlinson, Vince Young, Reggie Bush, Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, JaMarcus Russell, Terrell Owens, Ryan Howard, Allen Iverson, Barry Bonds.

This is just a start, of course. Once all the professional sports teams comply by providing detailed lists of their players’ yearly salaries, deferred income, bonuses, etc., there are many second- and third-tiered jocks who will neatly fit into the 5% category. DeAngelo Hall, a defensive back for the Oakland Raiders, has already earned $8 million through the first 8 games of the 2008 season. Not bad for a guy that was released by the team just today and was put on waivers, where he can be picked up by any other team willing to absorb his 7-year, $70 million deal, under which $24.5 million is guaranteed. (Don’t worry, someone will step up and help DeAngelo out.)

Suddenly, the frightening aspects of the new presidency—tantamount to the scenario of a Disney movie where the nice-looking, adorably charming office boy is suddenly thrust into the CEO’s chair—don’t look so bad. At least he won’t be spending my money.

Barack? You go, boy!!