By Benjamin Solak
I’d like to begin by admitting my bias, which will certainly slant the view I offer in this objective article on this objective week on this objective site: I absolutely love Christine Michael. There are many reasons to not love the NFL — just last week’s news cycle had about seven — so it’s important to relish the little joys found in football’s zaniest storylines and standoms. Such is the cult of Christine Michael.
Today, I’ll aim to describe the fear felt when facing the rumblin’, tumblin’ rabbit on ‘roids that was Christine Michael — the NFL blogging equivalent of a Tell-Tale Heart. I am certain I will fail, much like Christine Michael’s NFL career — but as he did, I will valiantly try (while wearing an American Flag onesie).
Who is this man?
The psychological damage inflicted by Michael’s duplicitous first name cannot be understated, and is accordingly our first stop on the posthumous C-Mike hype train. Football Guys™️ have spent their whole careers lined up opposite a Dave, coaching against a Sean, studying the film of a Jimmy or Joe — but Christine? Christine?! Immediately, C-Mike — a cowardly masculinizing of a beautiful name — puts his opponents on their toes.
Let me paint you the picture, worth roughly 316 words (let’s be honest: it’s not that important a picture).
It’s 2014, Week 14. A light snowfall graces the steps of the NovaCare Complex in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on a bright Monday morning. Head Coach Chip Kelly, the revolutionary, the savant, Icarus in flight, has his team chained to their desks with IV’s pumping superfood smoothies directly into their femoral arteries. DeSean Jackson walks into the room 15 seconds late, tailed by four Secret Service agents. A faint yowl echoes through the hallways. In the bowels of the building, Howie Roseman is suspended over a bed of hot coals, lamenting his selection of eventual Seattle great Marcus Smith in the first round.
The upcoming opponent for the 9-3 Eagles? The Seahawks. Their film flickers across the projector screen now.
“Defensively, we’ll have to worry about the rushing attack,” Kelly says. “Their bellcow is Marshawn Lynch, but Wilson gets involved from the quarterback position as well, and they’ll spell Lynch with another bruiser, Chri–…”
A tense silence falls over the room. Kelly licks his lips in that freaky-deaky manner that you imagine the giants did when they first captured Bilbo and the dwarves. He’s unnerved, leaking weakness in front of his troops. If he’s bamboozled by a player’s name, of all things, they’ll never respect him again. In a week, they’ll stop making their beds in the hotel; in a month, they may even try to audible a play at the line.
Nobody breathes, save for Kelly — a shallow inhale.
Uproar. Pandemonium, bedlam, upheaval. Players laugh and jeer as Kelly reddens, bellows, desperately grasps for control over the room. Smoothie bags are ripped off their IV stands and launched towards Kelly as boos erupt. The team is in disarray; preparation screeches to a halt; Mark Sanchez is swinging from the chandelier.
Hours later, the masses are finally roped into line, and filmwork can resume — but it is all for naught. The precious, wasted minutes can never be recovered. On the opposite coast, Christine Michael smiles, knowing that his mother’s plan has once again borne him a competitive edge.
(I do have a theory that Michael’s confusing first name does little to endear him to broadcasters, which makes them less likely to treat his 5-yard runs with the effusive calls they deserve, and subsequently Michael is further underappreciated in NFL circles. Feels like an appropriate conspiracy on a week in which C-Mike did absolutely nothing wrong.)
What did he do wrong?
Oh, yes, that reminds me: Christine Michael did nothing wrong.
Now, I will preface this by saying that I don’t really understand what’s happening right now. Mike hit me up and asked me to submit an enemy-oriented post on preparing to play against Christine Michael — I said okay, because I love Christine Michael, I enjoy the Pode, and Mike is acceptable. (Editor’s Note: Debatable.) Only when I began research for the appropriate context on Michael’s dominance did I learn that “C-Mike Did Nothing Wrong” is, you know, a thing.
A strong example: unenlightened rubes lament Michael’s ball security. Famously, his unwillingness to switch the ball to his opposite arm when running on the left side of the field — a skill taught to peewee runners — led to his overwhelming three career fumbles for the Seahawks. (Do not ask me on how many touches, for that does not matter. Rate stats are for Baldwins.)
Little do these bumpkins know that this was another machination by which Michael kept defenses off-kilter. Imagine how perplexed you’d be, had you been tackling opposite-arm runners for the last 15 years of your football career, to suddenly see a professional player eschew the dogma of backs everywhere. You’d forget what side of the field you were on! Which direction is the offense heading anyway? Defenders only ever practiced stripping the ball from the far side of their approach — again, Michael’s playing Rummikub while the league plays dominoes.
And in that fraction of a second, Michael would strike at the heart of your hesitation, with the patented spin move that peppers (it shows up twice) his highlight reel of exhilaratingly average plays. If Christine Michael did indeed do anything wrong — which he didn’t; that’s the whole point of this week — it was that he did not spin enough.
So Michael did nothing wrong, which of course, is about as bad as it gets when it comes to opponents against whom a team must prepare. There were no weaknesses to his game, as evidenced by the five garbage time carries with which he effortlessly salted away the victory against my Eagles in Week 14. Kelly and the ill-prepared Birds had no answer to his 5.3 yards/attempt, the vibrance and audacity with which he mattered (it was 2014, ’twas allowed). Christine Michael was perfect, and like all perfect things, the world could not withstand him, and he was broken against our imperfections, our failed appreciation, our narrow minds and envious hearts.
And the return of Thomas Rawls from injury, thrice cursed be his name.
(Do we hate Thomas Rawls? I always kinda liked Thomas Rawls, but I feel like a C-Mike Appreciation Week inherently is a big ol’ middle finger to Thomas Rawls. Anyway.)
(Editor’s Note: Thomas Rawls did nothing wrong.)
A man of spellbound mystery was Christine Michael. We remember him fondly today, not only for that random 100 yard game against the Cardinals, or his two rushing attempts for the Colts last year, or how he got Darrell Bevell to seriously call his 2016 preseason work a “reawakening,” or how he released a SoundCloud mixtape, or how cheerily he documents his life on Instagram, or how he’s probably gonna play for the Seattle Dragons.
Instead, we remember him for what he never became: the heir apparent to Marshawn Lynch, the second clap of thunder across a stormy Seattle skyline, a weapon too dangerous for one team to wield, fractured and scattered across the globe, to prevent it from being reassembled and threatening mankind again. In his career, C-Mike held the balance of competitive football as we know it — and gallantly, he laid down his arms and surrendered his dominance so that parity may ring, true and clear, across the league.
At least, that’s the lie Robert Kraft and Roger Goodell are spoonfeeding you lemmings. Parity my patoot.
Christine Michael was the best of us, and to him, we say: “You did nothing wrong.” Amen, amen, amen.