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More Messages: Morning Woody

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The first pair of columns by the

Denver Post

's Woody Paige since his return from New York City, where he'd spent the past two years hamming it up on ESPN2's

Cold Pizza

, didn't brim with surprises. At various times, the pieces (which ran yesterday and today, respectively) were dopey, confusing and contradictory, just as they've been so often through the years.

Of the two, Paige's December 3 offering was by far the lamest. Rather than rationalizing his return to Colorado almost a year to the day after he told readers he wouldn't be back anytime soon, which at least would have been amusing, he played cheerleader regarding Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan's decision to bench starting quarterback Jake Plummer in favor of highly touted rookie Jay Cutler.

Unfortunately, the alleged insights in "Broncos Better Off Playing Cutler" were thoroughly muddled, as if Paige had slammed them out in the twenty minutes before deadline. Tortured lines like "The Rookie for The Ssssss" barely made sense, and the percentage of readers who understood the query "Where have you gone, Joe DiVito?" is probably on par with the number of votes the Prohibition Party candidate racks up in the average election. (Even most hardcore fans probably don't remember DiVito, a backup quarterback who was briefly forced into the starter's role for the Broncos in 1968.) And while Paige talked up the move to Cutler, the main evidence he presented in support of this position was the opinion of Cutler fan Skip Bayless, who he referred to as "my argument adversary on ESPN." The column began with "Cut bait," included the phrase "Cutler bait," and ended with "Go fish" -- an appropriate image, since readers eagerly anticipating Paige's Mile High comeback were left feeling like suckers.

Today's effort, "Cutler Dazed, Confused," was an improvement over its predecessor -- not that it was anything special. Cutler's tepid performance in last night's loss to the Seattle Seahawks made the QB an easy target, and just because some of Paige's barbs stuck doesn't mean the columnist should be lauded for his uncanny aim. Indeed, Paige copped out by not addressing his attaboy Jay article of the day before. Did Woody now think starting Cutler had been a mistake? Or did he believe the move would pay off either this season or in subsequent ones? Instead of saying, Paige chose to riff, riff, riff in a manner that killed deeper thoughts on contact.

In that respect, the column was classic Woody of the sort that Post readers will once again be able to peruse four times a week. Aren't we lucky? -- Michael Roberts

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