7. Al Michaels and John Madden had too much class to say it Monday night, but I don't: Jeff Triplette and his officiating crew tried to sabotage a terrific football game.

It took every bit of restraint Madden could muster to avoid shredding Triplette during the telecast of Pittsburgh's 24-22 victory over the San Diego Chargers. The game featured 20 penalties, including a flag on damn near every special-teams return.

At one point, Madden said that all the yellow flags were not a reflection on Marty Schottenheimer and Bill Cowher and their two teams. Madden's point was that two talented, well-coached teams shouldn't be getting flagged on every fourth play.

Triplette's crew started on the opening kickoff and never stopped. Triplette, the man who tagged Orlando Brown in the eye with a flag, is a clown. However, the league needs to examine the way it officiates kickoffs and punts. There are way too many penalties on special teams, and the flags slow the game and undermine excitement.

6. It appears the New Orleans Saints are making the most of the built-in excuse the media handed them after Hurricane Katrina.

That's right. I blame the media for New Orleans' 52-3 loss to the Green Bay Packers. The Saints have been told by the media that they can lie down and play like dogs this year because of Katrina.

Rather than feel sorry for the Saints, I feel they're blessed. They have jobs. High-paying jobs. They can rebuild their lives. They have a well-financed, highly influential organization helping them get through Katrina. They can and should play better football than they did Sunday.

But they won't because they've been told they can stink this year.

5. Now that Jerry Rice has retired, there's an obvious question no one is asking: Are NFL receivers the most despicable, classless athletes in all of sports?

Chad Johnson
Chad Johnson's never dull, that's for sure.

Of course you have Terrell Owens and Randy Moss leading the way. There's no reason to elaborate on those two. Let's don't forget Rae Carruth, who is currently doing a bid for killing his baby's mama.

Then there's T.O. wannabe Chad Johnson, who fails to realize that we're laughing at him, not with him. Johnson's T.O. impersonation is rather embarrassing. It's the equivalent of watching Ricki Lake try to become Oprah.

Last weekend Keyshawn Johnson reminded everyone why he was run out of New York and Tampa. Me-shawn ripped into Drew Bledsoe, who made the mistake of telling Me-shawn not to fumble the football.

After the game, Me-shawn had the audacity to say: "I'm not the type of person to point fingers at anybody, and I don't want anybody saying anything to me."

I guess Me-shawn forgets selling out Tony Dungy and Warren Sapp after a Tampa playoff loss to the Eagles.

4. Someone might want to tell CBS's Steve Tasker that John Elway, Jim Brown, Walter Payton, Joe Montana and Lawrence Taylor all played in the National Football League.

During the Lions-Ravens game, Tasker said that Ray Lewis had more impact on his organization than any one player has ever had on an organization.



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