We've got our 8 winners from this season, all competing for the four final spots. But first, even with this being the semi-finals, we still have to get rid of two of them right off the bat. In the Sudden Death, each Joe is given their own football, and they have to run from end zone to end zone, with 100 dudes in their way. Apparently, once they clear a zone, the guys they pass are done. I assume that is how it is working; otherwise, I don't see anyone ever finishing this challenge. It's ridiculous.
But eventually, people start making it across the line.
First: Derek Schaeffer, our Wisconsin boy from Episode 3
Second: Gabriel Canape, whose episode I missed, which I feel stupid about as included DC area legends Jeff George and Brady Anderson.
Third: Donnie Frazier, who got into the finals in part because a dude fell down in his qualifying episode. (Who needed stiches in his chin after this event)
Fourth: Trent Madsen, a crazy shit-talker from Episode 7.
Fifth: Clayton Monte, a chunky shit-talker who was gifted the win by Christian Okoye in Episode 6, and who later commented on our blog about how unfair we were being our depictions of him, because he's a goddamn hero in real life.
Sixth: Joe Goodwin, or Coach Goodie, from Episode 4
Pour one out for David Ortiz (who looked like he had slimmed down) and Jason Vogel, who were eliminated.
For our semi-finals they've changed up the format of the show (it looks, in fact, awfully similar to the format of all of Season 2). Each Joe will compete against each Pro. The winners of the first 3 challenges are through to the Finals. The remaining 3 will compete in Overtime to see which one of them will become the fourth in.
Let's Meet the Pros.
Rod Woodson--corner/safety badass. Three trips to the Super Bowl with three different teams, winning one with Baltimore. Rod famously got his knee wrecked in part because a failed attempt to adjust to a Barry Sanders cut. A couple of the Joes reference that. That seems like a bad idea.
Antonio Davis--NBA big body/rebounder. Despite some of his many later year travels, including that funny incident with him going into the stands to protect his wife, I think of him still as an Indiana pacer.
Pernell Whitaker--boxer. That's all I really know about him. A very, very good boxer.
First challenge: Each Joe gets two downs. They have to run out wide and catch a swing pass and try to move upfield against Rod Woodson, who of course knows exactly where they will be running. After one trip through the Joes, only Trent Madsen has more than 3 yards--he manages 7! (To be fair, both Frazier and Schaeffer bounce the tackle, but step out of bounds). The second time through, everyone does worse, and Trent looks like he's about to cruise into the win. But hold everything! Coach Goodie has his last down, and he's slips Woodson's high tackle, and cruises for a 20 yard TD run. His total of 23 yards crushes Trent's 10 yards. No one else sniffs double-digit yardage.
Second challenge: Boarding against Antonio Davis. Each Joe has to grab boards and through the ball into targets. When Davis hits 5 rebounds himself, the game is over.
Madsen starts off, and does quite well, losing only 5-4. He started fast in the last challenge, too. Monte Clayton gets his asskicked, 5-1. Donnie Frazier looks bad early, but ends up losing only 5-3. Gabriel Canape, all 5' 7" of him puts in some serious work to get the score tied 4-4. At one point, with his hands on his knees, Davis asks Canape, "How tall are you man?" Canape tells him, and Davis gives a begrudging but admiring, "Damn." Canape gets his 5th board before Davis does, and takes the lead overall. Derek Schaeffer is next, and while he is clearly probably the best actual rebounder out of the Joes, he loses 5-3. Gabriel Canape advances! What pluck and spirit!
Third Challenge: Boxing for 2 minutes with Pernell Whitaker. Actual boxing judges on hand will determine the winner.
Monte goes first, and takes some big shots to the head, and doesn't land much at all. But he looks better in the ring than Trent Madsen, of whom host Peter Poopadoplis says, "all the finesse of a drunk with the shakes." He takes a shot in the nose, and gets a little bloodied. This seems to be about the Pernell gets bored, and decides to make up his own challenge, in which he acts as half-assed as he can and still not get touched. He basically smiles the rest of the way through, throwing shots at guys, but not particularly hard. Against one of these dudes, he actually rests one glove on the ropes, and throws punches with just one hand. Its all pretty silly. Schaeffer is the only one who shows any aggression at all; it is a ploddering, north woods kind of aggression, but at least it is something. He wins.
So we have 3 finalists, leaving Monte, Madsen and Frazier to compete for the final spot in Overtime.
Overtime: Step 1, 5 body shots on Whitaker. Step 2, there are 3 balls on (important adjective upcoming) low pylons that Davis will box out the Joes away from. Joes have to knock the balls off the pylons. Step 3, catch a touchdown while defended by Woodson.
In the way it is edited, Clayton Monte is up first. His strategy is to get into Whitaker quick and just throw pistoning alternating shots at Whitaker and hope for the best. It is effective, and he finishes in about 5 seconds, and reaches the stop clock bench at 22 seconds. Davis proves to be a tougher out. Monte fights hard to get the first ball, starts to fight hard for the second ball, and then just crawls between Davis' legs for the second. On the third ball, he simply puts his arm under Davis' junk, and gives his nuts a quick pull upward. Davis reacts, and Monte grabs the ball. Stay classy! Finishes at about 2:32. Against Woodson, he is given the gift of really soft coverage (something that Madsen certainly does not get), and catches a quick touchdown, to finish at 3:19. An impressive time, to my way of thinking.
Madsen goes next, and uses the Whitaker gambit, and also finishes at 22 seconds. Against Davis, he fights and scraps, and dives, much manages not to shoot the 5 hole, or touch Davis' balls. He finishes quicker than Monte, and goes into the final event with a bit of an advantage. A large amount of this advantage is built up by being able to run to the stop-clock benches a good deal faster than Monte (who Pernell Whitaker took to calling "guts" after his belly). Woodson plays insanely aggressive defense against Madsen (I'm pretty sure there was plenty of contact after 5 yards, for example), and Madsen maxes out. I don't give him a chance, but he actually finishes in 3:17. Monte is eliminated.
Donnie Frazier, 9 stiches on his chin goes next. He finishes the boxing challenge like everyone else, but runs it out quicker, and finishes in 17 seconds. He also shoots between Davis' legs to knock one ball off a pylon (next PvJ, maybe a higher pylon?). He finishes at 2:00, and knows that if he maxes out, he'll have time to run to the finish in the last event. So he goes hard at Woodson once, and then basically jogs through the rest of the minute, even telling Woodson that he's resting himself for the sprint for the finish. Not the most sporting of manuevers, but tactically quite intelligent. He maxes out, and hits his sprint hard, and wins by six seconds at 3:11.
There are your finalists, Ladies and Gentlemen. Gentlemen all, hardly a shit-talker in the bunch. We will still be rooting for D-Rock Shaeffer, pride of the fightin' Eagles.