Is the fun gone from your NFL office pool? Are you tired of
poring over plus-minus turnover ratios, of analyzing the Titans'
tight end play, of computing how well the Panthers perform
during nonfelony weeks? Then you might want to visit two NFL
picks sites on which winning certainly isn't the only thing.
Suburban Boston thirtysomethings Stephanie Lee (above, at left)
and Becky Smyrnios are a gridiron Cleavage and Butthead: They
have a smirkingly prurient interest in what they are watching.
"Jeff George is perfect proof that size isn't everything," wrote
Smyrnios as she handicapped Sunday's Chiefs-Vikings matchup. The
Minnesota quarterback, she elaborated, "has the biggest gun
around but a crappy disposition."
"Football players are celebrities," says Lee, who with her
partner launched the site last July after investing
approximately $10,000 in start-up costs. (They're hoping to turn
a profit from the ads on the site.) "We approach the NFL as E!
or PEOPLE might."
More like Cosmopolitan. Besides picking winners, the Chicks
bestow a "Big Johnson Award" (Redskins quarterback Brad has
supplanted Jets wide receiver Keyshawn) and continually update a
"Studs" section. "Our favorite section is 'Spankings,'" says
Smyrnios. "We've had to spank Brett Favre a few times this
season. We're getting sick of his being a drama queen. It's so
unmanly to cry."
Season to date (no spread): Lee 99-92; Smyrnios 95-96.
His name is Jeff Johnson. He comes from Wisconsin. He never
worked in a factory there, but somewhere in his past Johnson
must have inhaled mind-altering fumes, as attested by the many,
and often lengthy, digressions with which he peppers his picks.
"I think there should be a movie that's called Who's Kissing the
Great Running Backs of the NFL?" he wrote in his Week 5 preview,
pitching a character--togged out in a salmon-colored
unitard--who dashes onto the field and plants smooches,
Morganna-style, on running backs. "And know what else happens?
They find out that the daffy son of a bitch can throw a block!
And the Chiefs sign him up, and everybody's happy."
Equal parts Garrison Keillor and Hunter S. Thompson, Johnson's
humor makes The Far Side's Gary Larson seem as deranged as an
actuary. His game previews are often hidden amid wacky tales,
such as one in which actor Scott Baio quarterbacks the Gdansk
Catastrophe (an NFL Russia squad). "My column's not really about
the NFL," says Johnson, who daylights as the music editor for
Jane magazine, "but my record's better than most."
He's right. Season to date: 124-72-4 (no spread). Maybe he
deserves the Big Johnson Award.
COLOR PHOTO: RICK FRIEDMAN
"I'm good in the sports [video] games, mainly basketball.... I
play the Dreamcast--I'm undefeated so far. I usually play
[using] the Pacers, the Raptors, the Spurs a little bit.... As
long as I got the controls, that's the best team. I'll win with
the Clippers too!"
--Bucks forward GLENN ROBINSON, responding to a fan asking, "I
heard you are good at video games. Is that true?" on NBA.com