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200 Miles From the Citi


October 21, 2009 4:01 AM

DEFENDING CHAD PENNINGTON

I'm re-learning that one of the things you can't control without DirecTV is who you watch the games with on Sundays.

Sure, I have some control over who I go out with, and thanks go out to Dave in Brighton, who currently leads the league in football outings with me. But we can't really control who else we watch the game with.

Take Week 3 - we tried an old haunt where we get our own booth with our own TV to watch the Jets-Titans game. We were allowed to watch the game mostly in peace until a Patriots fan made his way over and adopted our TV to watch the end of the game. He had picked the Jets that week, and had money riding on the outcome. I was happy to have someone on my side in hostile territory, but I wouldn't have minded if he was a little more sober, and a little less physical.

A couple of weeks ago, Dave in Brighton and a friend of a friend of his were out, and I met up with them to watch the Jets-Saints. We sat behind a huge Bengals fan (mostly in stature...although he seemed like he was also really into his team) - and this was the week they almost tied the Browns. He watched that game in the bar like I watch Jets games in my living room. At our table was a girl (the aforementioned friend of a friend) who was rooting for the Bucs...and after meeting her I hope the Bucs don't win a game the rest of the season. But that's not the point.

The point was, as we watched some of the Bills getting smoked by Chad Henne and the Dolphins that week, she started dumping on Chad Pennington. I tried to get her to stop and strongly hinted something along the lines of "But he's my hero...", but she continued, and she became more offensive with each sentence. Comments like, "Addition by subtraction", and "they're better off with Henne"....I mean, it sounded like she was talking about someone like Plaxico Burress.

Well, I feel the need once again to defend Chad Pennington. Especially because the Dolphins are riding a pretty convincing 2-game winning streak with Henne at the helm, and because there's a better than 50% chance that they beat the best team in football this weekend. (Aside: this is such a trap game for the Saints - the Dolphins are coming off a bye week, the Saints have the Falcons the following week in a battle for NFC South supremacy....it's a total look-ahead game...and let's face it, they're not going undefeated...so why not lose this one?) Anyway, after that happens, everyone will be all over Pennington for standing in Henne's way at the beginning of this season.

But I have one simple argument to make - probably for the last time until Pennington becomes relevant again - by backing up a starting quarterback somewhere in the league, taking over that team following an injury, and leading them to a Super Bowl win....and here's that argument:

The New England Patriots have won the AFC East 8 of the last 9 years. The player to stop that streak - Chad Pennington, quarterbacking the Miami Dolphins last year. In every other year that he was healthy, his teams were the only teams to come within sniffing distance of those Patriots (2002 - Jets and Pats both 9-7, but the Patriots won the division; 2004 - the Jets were 10-6 to the Pats' 14-2; 2006 - the Jets were 10-6 to the Pats' 12-4). Now, I know this argument gets weaker in that the Patriots went on to win Super Bowls and the Jets only won a playoff game that whole time (should have been more if not for a certain kicker in 2004, but I don't want to get into that right now), but that's a whole lot better than 90% of the quarterbacks in the league.

So think twice before you go after Chad Pennington and his arm. Because when that arm was healthy, all he did was win.

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