Life is just a fantasy: the Mike Vanderjagt story
Cold, Hard Football Facts for Jun 02, 2008
(Ed. Note: the Vanderjagt t-shirt seen here and on the homepage is not ours. We found it from the guys at MotheringHut.com, a site that proudly boasts, "our swag is phenomenal." Check them out.)
Well, after two relatively blissful years marred mostly by the typical Bengals crime spree, Michael Vick's efforts to become a dog-fighting impresario and even quiet little Marvin Harrison getting caught up in a firearms controversy, the biggest douche in football is back in the news.
Yes, that's right, Mike Vanderjagt, football's King of All D-Bags, is back in the game. And he's still shooting off his mouth like pro football's resident village idiot stricken with tourette syndrome, completely oblivious to the world spinning around him and helpless to control his own bodily functions.
Oh, sure, Vanderjagt is not playing big-league football. But he is back in the news, signing recently with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League after failing to find work in the NFL, a league where, and he'll be the first to tell you, he owns the record for field goal accuracy.
Of course, Vanderjagt also holds the NFL records for
- big-game chokes
- selling out his teammates
- ignoring the age-old kickers' tradition of keeping your mouth shut while drawing a hefty paycheck for the cushiest gig in all of sports
- failing to grasp reality
- and getting tooled on by the Cold, Hard Football Facts, such as here, here and here.
Yet through it all, the ex-Colts, ex-Cowboys kicker still hasn't learned his lessons. Here's Vandy speaking yesterday in the Toronto Globe & Communist. Seems even his demotion to Double-A ball hasn't broken his grandiose, delusional ego. And seems we couldn't help but respond to the psychotic cackling of our favorite football head case.
Nurse Ratched, Nurse Ratched? We need a little help over here.
The Cold, Hard Football Facts, as always in these types of stories, appear [in italics].
June 2, 2008
MISSISSAUGA -- More than a decade after he left the CFL for greener pastures and much bigger paydays in the NFL, Mike Vanderjagt was back with the Toronto Argonauts yesterday, talking about the familiarity of the setting and the comfort of being back where his career began.
Yet while Vanderjagt looked at home in Argos blue during his first practice yesterday, it was hard not to wonder how a player whose star shone so brightly in the NFL less than two years ago was no longer wanted in that league.
"My age, the amount of money I'd have to make and I don't kick off that great," said the native of Oakville, Ont., who last kicked for Toronto in the 1997 Grey Cup game.
[CHFF, channelling the voice of the singer Ellen Foley in "Paradise by the Dashboard Light": "STOP RIGHT THERE!! Before we go any further ..." ... So Vanderjagt can't get a job in the NFL because of the "amount of money (he'd) have to make"? Is this guy delusional? Essentially, here's a guy who just settled for a job in Iran cleaning oil-platform shitters for minimum wage, and tells us he took the job because the guys at Exxon headquarters can't afford to pay him to run the Caribbean islands exploration division. It's during moment's like this that Vandy makes us think of one of our favorite 1980s classics. Take a moment to enjoy before returning to the Planet Vandy show.]
show video here
[Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.]
"I wasn't actively pursuing the NFL. If the phone rang, I was listening, but Toronto was the front-runner. I wanted to come to Toronto more than anywhere else."
[IF the phone rang ... nice choice of words. Notice he didn't "when the phone rang." We can picture Vandy's home now, with his skeletal hand hanging over the phone, covered in dust and cobwebs."]
While Toronto was certainly Vanderjagt's preferred destination among CFL cities, the fact he continued to audition for NFL squads until last month suggests he wasn't in that much of a hurry to come home.
[Ahh, good reporting for the Globe & Communist. The reporter just told us, point blank, that Vandy's lying about Toronto being his "front runner."]
That's understandable since any NFL payday would be better than what he'll be making with the Argonauts, who signed him last Friday and traded kicker Noel Prefontaine to the Edmonton Eskimos for a first-round draft pick in 2009.
[Hey, we just said the same thing above: Vandy was lying when he mentioned money as one of the reasons he's not playing in the NFL.]
What's less understandable is why Vanderjagt never kicked again in the NFL after the Dallas Cowboys released him 12 weeks into the 2006 season, just months after he signed a three-year, $5.4-million (U.S.) contract.
[All we can say is that inactions speak louder than words, and the inaction of NFL teams to pick him up pretty much says it all.]
While Vanderjagt's kickoffs were an issue in Dallas, he remains the most accurate field-goal kicker in NFL history (an 86.47-per-cent career success rate).
[If ever an empty stat existed, it's Vandy's record career field goal percentage. He hit 11 of 14 playoff field goals (78.6 percent), well below his regular-season rate. And, as you'll see below, he routinely choked on one clutch kick after another, to the point that the Heimlich Institute asked him to become its spokesman.]
And, at 38, he's hardly too old for the job, having lost a midseason tryout with the Jacksonville Jaguars last fall to John Carney, who was 42 at the time.
[Hell, we hear there are teams in the NFL that would sign George Blanda before Vandy.]
All of which leads to the inevitable question whether Vanderjagt's willingness to speak his mind may have caught up with him in the NFL.
[Gee, do you f'in think, Sherlock Holmes? Besides speaking his mind, which usually involved calling out his teammates, how about just the plain stupid things he said, like the day he missed that big kick against Pittsburgh in the 2005 playoffs, just hours after he was in the Indy Star talking about his "feminine side" and, naturally, about missing big kicks. This guy was physically intolerable. Seriously, the thought of sharing a locker room with him causes us such digestive discomfort that we can't hold down rice cakes and water.]
"I don't know whether I'm outspoken or not," he said yesterday. "My mom raised me to be honest, so if I was asked a question, I answered it honestly. That may be my only fault. But, obviously, I've learned from answering honestly.
[Maybe his mom should have raised him to show a little tact, too. Vandy's comments about his teammates remind us of the 3-year-old boy in the market who yells out, "Hey mommy, look at the fat lady!" But hey, he's just being honest.]
"Back then I just thought I was Mike from Oakville and I never really realized anything I said was worth anything until that stuff occurred," he said. "I don't think I'm outspoken, I'm just honest. I just say what people want to hear."
[Yes, people want to hear what you say so badly that you can't even get a job. Seriously, this guy is so delusional he should be locked up with Billy Bibbit and Chief Bromden.]
Vanderjagt first gained notoriety for his comments in January of 2003, when, while working as a studio analyst for the Canadian all-sport television channel The Score, he questioned the makeup of his star Indianapolis Colts teammate, quarterback Peyton Manning.
[That's because a kicker is like a child: he is to be seen and not heard. Another life lesson Vandy's mom should have taught him.]
A firestorm ensued in Indy, but Vanderjagt went on to set an NFL record with a streak of 42 consecutive field goals.
[Yes, but it might have been worth mentioning that the record streak came crumbling to a devastating conclusion when Vandy, in true Vandy style, shanked a do-or-die kick in the 2004 season opener against the arch-rival Patriots. The choke had repercussions that rippled throughout the season, allowing the Patriots to capture the No. 1 AFC seed that year and play the Colts at home in the playoffs rather than in Indy. The Patriots beat up the Colts at home in the snow, on the way to their second consecutive Super Bowl title. Interestingly, of those 42 consecutive field goals, not one was a do-or-die kick. In other words, the first one he missed was the first one that really counted.]
In Dallas, there was more controversy, however, when he failed to see eye to eye with the head coach at the time, Bill Parcells, who dumped him in favour of Martin Gramatica, who hadn't kicked in nearly two years.
[Not only did he fail to see eye to eye with the legendary Tuna, he nailed just 13 of 18 field goals (72.2 percent) with Dallas, far below the "record" rate of which he's so proud. To put it another way, including his last kick in Indy, he hit just 13 of his last 19 field goals (68.4 percent). He also clanked a bunch of pre-season field goals with Dallas, too, showing that he was having trouble hitting even meaningless kicks. At least back in Indy, you could count on Vandy to miss only clutch kicks.
[Clearly, this guy was on a downward spiral. Parcells, by the way, never looked back. The coach's first reaction to the media after cutting Vandy was that "I feel better." Who wouldn't? He got rid of an overpaid kicker who struggled to kick effectively and was a boiling pot of controversy waiting to bubble over.]
Most assumed it would only be weeks before Vanderjagt worked again in the NFL. He turned down a two-week injury replacement gig with the Oakland Raiders late in the 2006 season, but was not in training camp last summer. He remained in the hunt for NFL work until recent tryouts with the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos yielded no offers.
[So the one NFL job he was offered over the last two years was as an injury replacement with the 2006 Raiders, the 2-14 2006 Raiders. Maybe teams don't want him because he's a obnoxious loudmouth who CAN'T HIT THE BIG KICK!
[Besides the miss against New England in the 2004 opener that possibly cost his team a shot at the Super Bowl, he missed even bigger kicks in the playoffs. Back during 2000 with the Colts, he kicked 25 of 27 field goals in the regular season. But when the Colts absolutely needed him to hit one in overtime against Miami in the playoffs, he shanked it. The Dolphins went on to win, 23-17. In 2005, he kicked 23 of 25 field goals in the regular season. But when his team absolutely needed him to hit one at the end of regulation in the playoffs against Pittsburgh, he shanked it. The Steelers held on to win, 21-18.]
Many football players have committed worse sins in society than questioning a teammate or failing to get along with a coach. But in the NFL, those things may be more damaging to a player's standing within a team than many things that get a player into legal trouble off the field.
"I don't know for what reason I would be blackballed," Vanderjagt said. "If we're going to blackball someone for being outspoken, we've got issues. I've never been arrested, never done [driving under the influence], never hit my wife."
[At this moment, we feel the need to share a little personal story with you, our beloved readers. It's illuminating, in so many different ways. But back during senior year in college, one of the CHFF Trolls (who it was does not matter ... but he has a girl's name), went on a football road trip with a bunch of other kids. Being poor college students, they crashed like 20 kids in a room at the Cheap-O Motel.
[Well, all that weekend, and for months after, the girls who stayed in the room that night wouldn't talk to our Troll. Finally, near the end of senior year, the Troll turned to his roommate and said, "how come those girls never talk to me" (apparently thinking they were different than any other girls). And the roommate was like, "You're kidding, right? You know happened, don't you?"
[Sadly, our little Troll had no idea what happened. So his roommate said, "Remember that night in the hotel on the road trip to Penn State? Well, you woke up in the middle of the night completely wasted, walked to the corner of the room and, thinking your were in the bathroom, took a leak. All over my bag, too."
[Well, it all seemed so clear after that. It explains why those girls never talked to our Troll. And it also explains why NFL teams don't want to talk to Vandy: he verbally pisses all over his teammates in the media, and then physically pisses all over his teammates when he keeps missing big kicks.]
Though Vanderjagt did not rule out a return to the NFL, he said he was hoping his return to the CFL might allow him to hit some goals, including becoming the first player to score 1,000 points in both leagues.
In the meantime, the most important question is whether the Argos will be a better team with Vanderjagt, who was superb for them a decade ago, including 15-for-16 at playoff time, than they were with Prefontaine.
General manager Adam Rita said Prefontaine's 66.7-per-cent field-goal kicking percentage last season raised concerns within the organization, the second year in a row his success rate had decreased.
Vanderjagt, meanwhile, will have to be responsible for punting for the first time since he left the CFL in 1997, taking over for one of the league's best in Prefontaine.
"Coach [Rich] Stubler wanted Vanderjagt and we got him," Argos general manager Adam Rita said. "It's obvious what Vandy can do. If he's not the best field-goal kicker in the world, he's close."
[Well, all we can say is that there's a reason Rita can't get a job in the big leagues, either: he's clueless, too. If Vandy was one of the best field-goal kickers in the world, he'd have a job with one of the best football teams, in the best football league, playing with the best football players. Yet he does not. Considering Vandy's series of NFL records, it is truly mind-boggling: it's like a guy with a career batting average of .380, or a pitcher with a 1.90 ERA, who can't get a job in the major leagues. Yet, when you listen to Vandy babble through yet another story, when you listen to his inchorent rantings and delusional sense of self, it kind of all makes sense, too. You wouldn't play with this guy, either. So welcome back to Canada, Vandy. The NFL won't miss you ... but we sure as hell will.]
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