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Monday, August 30, 2010
Power Rankings: NFL preseason edition

By Greg Hardy
Special to Page 2

Get those hammies stretched for the latest edition of the Page 2 Power Rankings! Our formula combines the results of two surveys: a human poll concocted by ESPN Page 2's Greg Hardy and a scientifically calibrated poll generated by computer analysis. Unfortunately, our laptop still hasn't gotten back to the office since it went to return the dress it was loaned for Emmy night. We weren't big fans of that lilac number anyway, but you try getting Monique Lhuillier and Toshiba to agree on fabrics. To the results!

1. NFL Preseason Dystopia

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
9.7 9.5 19.2

Credentials: Talk about no respect. The media blasts NFL execs for selling full-priced tickets for glorified scrimmages. NFL execs have all but vowed to abolish two preseason games in favor of "enhancing" the regular season to 18 games. NFL veterans are scared silly about sacrificing their bodies in the cruelest arena imaginable and about the increased chance to suffer a career-ending injury. Yet when these games come on TV ... zing, real football fans just gotta watch. We've gotta talk about it. We've gotta over-analyze it. Because there's no alternative. It's either fake football or real slamming our heads into the wall while waiting for real football. So what if there's fake football on TV? Everything on TV is fake. Yeah, "Mad Men" is a blast, but it's not a documentary of the '60s any more than there's a chance Rex Ryan's success on "Hard Knocks" means he's going to do a crossover guest turn on "True Blood." Even if we're on the verge of "The End of Preseason Football As We Know It," we feel fine.


2. Emmys

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
9.2 9.1 18.3

Credentials: Dear TV stars: We hope all you Sunday night winners appreciate the honor you've received. No, not those crummy statues; we mean when announcer John Hodgman was chirping something funny on your behalf.


3. Antonio Bryant

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
8.6 8.3 16.9

Credentials: The Cincinnati Bengals cut the receiver before he'd played one game for them, despite signing him for $8 million guaranteed. This makes us more gun-shy than ever about ever taking part of an auction-style fantasy draft. Don't make us decide ahead of time how much a player is worth, just let us pick a name out of a hat when it's our turn to put a sticker on the chart.


4. Tiger Woods

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
7.9 7.8 15.7

Credentials: Cheering when Tiger Woods places 12th at an end-of-August tournament in which he was the first-day co-leader is like cheering when James Cameron releases a new version of "Avatar." Yeah, you're the No. 1 champ, that doesn't mean we're obliged to give you spare change when we see you on the street corner with your hand out and a Rolex on your wrist.


5. Donovan McNabb

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
7.1 7.7 14.8

Credentials: If his ankle malady lingers too long for Mike Shanahan's liking, we'll see if the coach is tempted to work up enough snarky remarks to the media to start an "Injured Washington Redskins Celebrity Roast." He kids because he ... well, not loves, but needs people to unquestioningly obey his demands.


6. College Football Kickoff

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
6.1 6.6 12.7

Credentials: Move over, unwanted NFL preseason games! NCAA football is here, and the elite programs are ready to kick butt and take names. That is, if certain teams have enough players left on the roster after NCAA investigators are done kicking butt and taking names while snooping around campus for pimping agents and pesky tutors.


7. L.L.W.S.

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.8 5.6 11.4

Credentials: Congratulations to Japan for stepping up to the plate and giving someone else a chance for a Little League World Series title after U.S. teams have won five straight. Although, did anyone think to get DNA samples from those kids before they left South Williamsport? With a disturbing rash of Spider-Man-worthy catches in Japanese baseball leagues showing up on YouTube, we should check to see if those kids are being given the types of performance-enhancers that would make Peter Parker faint.


8. Manny!

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.2 5.6 10.8

Credentials: First the Cubs implode, and now Ozzie Guillen and the White Sox are looking at getting a new guest star for their stretch run. Manny, just to prove you're a team player, promise that you'll never swing the bat at the plate until you're given Frank Thomas' No. 35 that was retired Sunday. It's important to prove that life's a two-way street on the South Side. Or a one-way street, either's fine.


9. Michelle Wie

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.4 5.4 10.8

Credentials: She finally won her second LPGA tournament trophy, and there's signs that her unrelenting hype machine might be gearing up again -- and all the perks that go with it. For example, if she went to Denny's after returning from Canada, she probably wouldn't even have to wait for a table.


10. USA Basketball

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
4.7 5.5 10.2

Credentials: Are we sure that this world tournament is actually going on? It seems kind of strange that every player that Kevin Durant and Kevin Love are tearing up has a name that's an anagram of "Krzyzewski."


11. Paris Hilton

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
4.8 4.7 9.5

Credentials: The only way we can be more disappointed with the socialite being mentioned in connection with felony cocaine charges is if her legal entanglements somehow prevent her from performing Tommy John surgery on Stephen Strasburg.


12. Middle School Football Age Limits

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
4.6 4.3 8.9

Credentials: In Tampa, Fla., a 21-year-old man is being accused of claiming to be a 14-year-old player in a youth football league. Evidently, deciding to sign up to be a middle school student when you're old enough to buy beer is easier than the prospect of going to Canada and trying out for the Montreal Alouettes.


13. Fantasy Analysis

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
2.1 2.4 4.5

Credentials: Just as you're reconsidering the wisdom of taking Andre Johnson with your first-round pick, TV execs are reviewing whether Jimmy Fallon is worth a first-round pick for a future awards show. But why would anyone pass up Neil Patrick Harris? Or was he already selected when NBC was on the clock?


Also receiving votes
• NASCAR Bye Week: Sorry to disappoint all the fans who haven't been showing up to the tracks anyway, but mandatory off-weeks are built into the Sprint Cup schedule each season in order for drivers and crews to test out new rearview mirror air fresheners.

Never receiving votes
• WNBA Playoff Sweepees: The Los Angeles Sparks, San Antonio Silver Stars and Washington Mystics were each two-games-and-out of the postseason. For their players, it's going to be a long offseason spent Googling the names of the other WNBA franchises to jog their memories of what exactly each team's name is.

• NFL Snuggies: While typing up this week's list, an e-mail popped into the inbox advertising the fleece blanket's latest licensed franchise. What odd timing. These things either should have come out a year earlier when Snuggie kitsch was at an all-time high, or a year from now to fill in as the league's only source of income if labor unrest forces no pro ball 2011.

Greg Hardy is a Page 2 contributor. It's all pop culture all the time at Twitter.com/HardyVision.


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