Sunday, January 31

Super Bowl Countdown #18: Super Bowl XXIV

During the two weeks preceding the Super Bowl, I will be counting down the best Super Bowls I have witnessed in my lifetime, starting in 1988. I created a ranking system and will go game by game reliving each edition until the top Super Bowl is listed.

There might be a need to call a doctor, because the game we have here is a little lopsided. In fact, the crowning achievement for the San Francisco 49ers dynasty of the 80s was never in doubt. The Broncos ran into a steamroller on this January night in the Superdome and became the first team since the Vikings to lose four Super Bowls. The only reason the Louisiana Laugher is this high in the countdown is the appreciate for the 80s dynasty.

San Francisco 49ers 55, Denver Broncos 10

Semi-Lame Nickname: I really couldn't find one, so I guess I'll go with the one I used in the opening paragraph.


Historical Significance- 4.5: The 49ers were not only going for back-to-back titles, but their 4th of the decade. Bill Walsh had retired after the 49ers beat the Bengals the previous year and George Seifert had been hand-picked to come in and keep the train running. This would be the last time we saw the Montana-Rice combo on the grandest stage. The Broncos were in their second Super Bowl in 3 years but many were not giving Dan Reeves and John Elway a chance.

Game Enjoyment by the Fans- 2: The game was not a contest and the viewing public seemed to know it was going to happen. The game drew the lowest Neilsen rating since Super Bowl 3 in 1969.

High Profile Element- 3: Joe Cool was at the height of his skills. His years of experience and the weapons around him had them firing on all cylinders. They went 14-2 in the regular season with their losses by a combined 5 points. Rice and Taylor were still bringing their excellence at receiver, Brent Jones, Roger Craig, and Tom Rathman also highlighted the offense. The defense was stout as well, giving up the the 3rd fewest points in the league. Charles Haley, Bill Romanoski(rage!), and Matt Millen(before failsauce) held the linebacking core intact. Ronnie Lott was pretty decent in the backfield as well.

The Broncos had added some help on offense that year with Bobby Humphrey at RB and their rookie free safety Steve Atwater who would produce for years with the Broncos. Denver struggled in the regular season, with Elway throwing 18 TDs and INTs, but as the great ones do he stepped up his game in the playoffs leading them in wins over the Steelers and once again crushed the hopes and dreams of the Browns in the AFC CHampionship game.

Venue/Atmosphere- 3: This was the 7th Super Bowl in New Orleans. I've been to the city once and I will say that it is a great town to just let it fly and let loose. I was there post-hurricane so I don't know if it was that different than before but I saw it as more of a destination than a place of habitation. Aaron Neville crooned the national anthem and the halftime show was a salute to the 40th anniversary of the Peanuts cartoon. While I love the Peanuts theme Linus and Lucy, this was not one to blow the roof off the Superdome(too soon?). One thing I will say about this about the entertainment factor, this commercial rules:

Personal Enjoyment- 2: While I was a big Joe Montana fan when I was a kid, the game left a lot to be desired. The previous year the 49ers needed a dramatic comeback drive to beat the Bengals, but in this one it was over in the first quarter.

Cleet's Rating Index: 16

Where I was: I was only a 9 year-old when this game took place. Like I said I was a big Montana guy as a kid. I think this was a function of how the media was in those days. There was not the constant flow of media information there is now, so Joe was always there and I latched onto it. I did like his style and how he played of course, but to lay it out there I am no longer a 49ers fan.

What Happened In The World: 3 days after the game, the first McDonald's opened in Moscow. In post-soviet Russia, hamburgalar burgle you!

Record of Note: The 49ers scored 55 points and won by 45, both set records.

Game MVP: Joe Montana went 22 of 29 for 297 yards and 5 TDs.

LVP: John Elway went 10 of 26 for 108 yards and 2 picks.

Most Memorable Play: Pick a Montana to Rice score, there were 3.

NFL Fallout: The Broncos and Elway would not get their shot at redemption for 8 more years. Montana led the 49ers to a 14-2 record again in 1990 but they were upended by the Giants in the NFC Championship game. Montana would then undergo elbow surgery that would sideline him for 1991 and most of 1992. By then Steve Young had taken over the team and Montana was then traded to the Chiefs.

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Saturday, January 30

Super Bowl Countdown #19: Super Bowl XL

During the two weeks preceding the Super Bowl, I will be counting down the best Super Bowls I have witnessed in my lifetime, starting in 1988. I created a ranking system and will go game by game reliving each edition until the top Super Bowl is listed.

Just four games into my Super Bowl countdown and it has been a great experience so far from a sports and life perspective. One cannot live in the past, but surely being cognizant of past events can aid someone in their future travails. Today, a game not too far in the past. Detroit, Michigan was the scene and the city was the brunt of a lot of jokes for hosting, but by all accounts it was a good setting apart from the outside weather. So prepare for obvious Lions jokes and mentions that Jerome Bettis indeed, is from Detroit. A revisit to the Detroit Demolition after the break.

Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Seattle Seahawks 10

Semi-Lame Nickname: "The Road to Forty"


Historical Significance- 3.5: As anyone from Pittsburgh or anyone who has jumped on their bandwagon can tell you Pittsburgh has a proud tradition. Until this game though, they had not won a Super Bowl in 26 years and had only appeared in one(1995) since they captured their 4th title in 1979. That didn't stop a (huge)mass of Steeler fans from invading the city of Detroit on Super Bowl week with their banana-colored towels in tow. The Seahawks were upstarts on the NFL block. They were founded in 1976 in the midst of the run of the Steel Curtain and were entering their first ever title contest. This was truly a Ric Flair situation: to be the man, the Seahawks were going to have to beat the man (Woooooooooooooo!).

Game Enjoyment by the Fans- 3: The game had a lot of build-up, the league really pushed the 40th year of the game during the year. The players provided plenty of trash talk on both sides. The game was a somewhat sloppy affair punctuated by a couple big plays. Nobody would argue that it was a total artistic display of the game of football.

High Profile Element- 3.5: At every level of the game there was a story. Steeler coach Bill Cowher was trying to finally win the big one while Mike Holmgren was trying for lofty territory by winning one with his 2nd team. Did we mention that Jerome Bettis is from Detroit so this game was being played in his hometown? Ben Roethlisberger was in his second season after leading the Steelers to a 15-1 record in his rookie campaign. Matt Hasselbeck had established himself as a top tier quarterback in the league and had shaken off his former playoff faux pas from the prior year:

The defenses were both intimidating and fast. The Seahawks had 50 sacks that year and the Steeler defense was very similar to how it is today with Polamalu patrolling the backfield with defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau unleashing a strong linebacking core on opposing quarterbacks. Joey Porter lead the team in sacks, and lip-flapping. Shaun Alexander was the MVP that year and set a then-record with 28 TDs. His disappearance from the NFL conversation makes Priest Holmes blush. The Steelers used a two back system with Willie Parker adding the speed and Bettis bringing the power. Bettis is after all, from Detroit.

The main hype story in the media was the clash between Joey Porter and Seattle tight end Jerramy Stevens. The deplorable unthinkable act committed by Stevens was that he came out and said it was going to be a shame when the Seahawks denied Jerome Bettis the chance to hold the Lombardi trophy in his home town. Jerome Bettis is from Detroit, you see. How dare he proclaim his desire for his team to win! Porter then opened up on Stevens, calling him soft. Thus the media was fed a storyline and ate it up during the lead up to the game.

Venue/Atmosphere- 3.5: Tastes vary but I happen to like Ford Field. Their may be a more positive attitude if the Lions could win more than 5 games a year. The pre-game was composed of soul singers singing some Motown hits, nothing wrong with that. Aretha Franklin, Aaron Neville along with a choir sang the anthem in a tribute to New Orleans as the game was 5 months after Katrina. The Rolling Stones performed at halftime. ABC imposed a 5 second delay to control anything that might scar our nations youth for life. So when the lyrics of "Rough Justice" included the word (gasp) cocks, the microphone went dead. Of course, the Detroit community was not too happy about having a British band perform in Motown for halftime, especially when you consider it was by a band that was heavily influence by blues. For your eye-rolling pleasure, Tom Brady flipped the coin, representing Super Bowl MVPs of the past.

Personal Enjoyment- 2: The game was by no means a blowout but I never got the feeling I was watching an epic clash of champions. The Seahawks and their fans will point to this more than me but the officiating was deplorable. Seattle also had horrible clock management in the 4th quarter.

Cleet's Rating Index: 16

Where I was: Not exactly the most exciting time for me. I was unemployed and was pondering my next move in life. I was visiting with friends out of town that weekend, but one of the people I was traveling with insisted on getting back to our town on Sunday instead of staying and watching the Super Bowl we drove back and I was able to make it for kickoff and watched the game with just me and my dog. Lame? Yes, but all you really need is a TV and a beer.

What Happened In The World: 6 days before the game Samuel Alito was sworn in to the Supreme Court. No word on whether he mouthed anything during the ceremony.

Record of Note: Willie Parker ran for a record 75-yard touchdown two plays into the second half. The run beat out Marcus Allen's famous run in Super Bowl 18.

Game MVP: Hines Ward won the MVP. He caught 5 balls for 123 including the TD from Antwaan Randle El that sealed the game for the Steelers in the 4th. I would like to point out here that he is the best blocking WR in the history of the game. I don't necessarily believe that but I wanted to piss off Catfish.

LVP: The Officials, headed by Bill Leavy. Let me first say that I do not think that the bad calls necessarily led to Pittsburgh winning. There were bad calls on both sides, but the most notable were against the Seahawks. The first was the offensive Pass Interference call on Darrell Jackson. I think the ref reacted to hands being extended, but watching the play again, it was a dubious call at best.

The next call I want to bring up was the goal-line run by Roethlisberger.

Leavy went with the not enough evidence to overturn the play. This one you cannot really fault the officials, it is impossible to tell whether the tip of the ball crossed the plane of the goal-line.

This gives me an opportunity to reinforce my idea about coming up with some kind of technology to let us know exactly where the ball is on the field. Can we not implant a microchip on the ball and keep track of it on the field? How can tennis have such a great replay system yet the most popular and lucrative sport in our country cannot?

Next we have the holding call on tackle Sean Locklear after an 18-yard completion to Stevens down to the 1. Couldn't find a replay on this one, but the replay even left John Madden dumbfounded. The next play resulted in a Hasselbeck interception and then he was flagged for blocking below the waste, seen at the beginning of this video.

This was the only call the NFL would say was ruled incorrectly. The Seahawks and their fans and media were more vocal than anyone about the officiating, which makes it appear as sour grapes. As a person with experience in this area, I can tell you a few things with certainty. You will never get either side to agree on the calls and it will not change the outcome of the game. Seattle had their chances to win this game but they failed to convert in many instances and two lapses on defense lead to 14 Pittsburgh points. Until we create a race of cyborg referees that can make instantly correct calls and eventually overthrow humankind and make us their slaves, bad officiating will remain a fact in the NFL.

Most Memorable Play: The Randle-El touchdown pass holds in my mind. Up until then the Seahawks still had a fighting chance and it was the first TD thrown by a WR in Super Bowl history.

NFL Fallout: The Steelers were able to finally get Cowher his title and a year later he rode into the sunset and into the CBS studios. Pittsburgh would continue their development of Big Ben and despite having 2 picks and a passer rating lower than his age, Roethlisberger came back two years later and led the game-winning drive. The Seahawks had that Super Bowl hangover and despite reaching the playoffs in subsequent years, they were never able to get to the level they reached in 2005. Mike Holmgren retired a few season later and is now the president of the Cleveland Browns. One last note from this game: Jerome Bettis is from Detroit.

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Friday, January 29

It's Friday


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The Dangers of Being Amphibious

Reader mail!

Clayton emails in this link about the dangers of kids being ambidextrous. According to the article, a study was done in Finland on young people who were able to go left or right.

"But our results are statistically and clinically significant," said lead researcher Alina Rodriguez of the Imperial College London. "That said, our results should not be taken to mean that all children who are mixed-handed will have problems at school or develop ADHD. We found that mixed-handed children and adolescents were at a higher risk of having certain problems, but we'd like to stress that most of the mixed-handed children we followed didn't have any of these difficulties."

Interesting news to be sure. Our namesake Charles Shackleford I'm sure would be alarmed by this development.

Ambidextrous kids more prone to mental issues [MSNBC]

Photo via

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Thursday, January 28

Super Bowl Countdown #20: Super Bowl XXVI

During the two weeks preceding the Super Bowl, I will be counting down the best Super Bowls I have witnessed in my lifetime, starting in 1988. I created a ranking system and will go game by game reliving each edition until the top Super Bowl is listed.

The 20th Super Bowl on my ongoing countdown was the northernmost Super Bowl ever. At this point the Bills had only tasted Super Bowl defeat once, losing the previous year's game by one point to the Giants. However, there would be no close shave in this game as the Redskins returned to glory, and subsequently have not returned since. Read on for the Mincing in Minneapolis.

Washington Redskins 37, Buffalo Bills 24

Semi-Lame Nickname: "Winter Magic"


Historical Significance- 3.5: There was a lot of history on the side of the Redskins if they won this game. They were seeking to become the fourth team to win their 3rd Super Bowl. They were also seeking to do it with 3 different quarterbacks. Joe Gibbs was the man who had led the 'Skins to all their titles, spanning 9 years. The Bills were still riding their high-powered K-Gun but had faltered, scoring only a field goal in the AFC title game which was a 10-7(their scored their TD on defense). Gary Kubiak led the Broncos lone TD drive when Elway went out with a thigh injury.

Game Enjoyment by the Fans- 3.5: No matter their current state, the Redskins are one of the storied franchises of the NFL. How else can you explain that Daniel Snyder still makes money with how that team is run? That and the Bills offense captivated the pre-game hype, but once the game reached halftime, the air was out of the Dome.

High Profile Element- 3.5: The MVP of the season was Thurman Thomas. He racked up over 2,000 yards of offense and 12 TDs. Mark Rypien was not the biggest name at the position to play for the 'Skins and maybe not in this game but 1991 was easily his best year. Joe Gibbs and Marv Leavy were both multi-Super Bowl coaches and this was yet another title match-up with a high-powered offense versus a dominant defense.

Venue/Atmosphere- 3: For some reason I like to see Super Bowl's in northern venues. I really would not mind if it snowed during a Super Bowl. It is not like only one team battles the elements. I understand if windy conditions mess up everything, but worth the gamble. Oh, you think people won't show up if it is cold out? Maybe not for a season finale when the home team is 3-12, but for the Super Bowl they would. The Metrodome hosted the Super Bowl, Final Four, and the World Series within a 12-month span, which I find to be a compelling record. Harry Connick Jr. sang the anthem which is okay, but I can never forgive the man for 'Hope Floats', unforgivable son. The Halftime show featured Gloria Estefan(Super Bowl veteran!) and then in an awesome/awful display, Brian Boitano and Dorothy Hamil skated on Teflon sheets on stage. Nice to see Boitano took time from beating up Kubla Khan. Maybe the best part of the atmosphere created by CBS, which would not host another Super Bowl for 8 years, was the song they used in the introduction for the game. Observe:

Bangerang CBS! The NFL on CBS music was pretty boss(correct early 1990s slang?) too.

Personal Enjoyment- 2: Despite the fantastic intro, the game got out of hand quickly. By halftime it was 17-0 and the Bills never really had a chance. I was still young at the time of the game so my attention was lost rather quickly.

Cleet's Rating Index: 15.5

Where I was: I was a young, spry boy of 11 when the game took place. As I mentioned, my attention was lost from the game and by the late 3rd quarter I was attending to my main focus at the time: beating Super Ghouls and Ghosts for Super Nintendo. Always thought it was awesome that you can be knocked into a loin cloth.

What Happened In The World: The very day of the Super Bowl, Boris Yeltsin announced that Russia would no longer target American cities with nuclear weapons. So we have that going for us, which is nice unless Putin reversed that policy.

Record of Note: Both teams combined for the most points in a 3rd quarter with 24.

Game MVP: Mark Rypien went 18/33 for 292 yards, 2 TDs and a pick. He helped Gary Clark and Art Monk become the 3rd pair of receivers to gain 100 yards receiving in the big game.

LVP: Bills offense. Even though he hails from the U, my man machine gun Kelly had those 4 picks. He was under heavy pressure all night and the Bills running game was less than stellar. Thurman Thomas had 13 yards on 10 carries.

Most Memorable Play: In the first quarter the Redskins drove down the field but had to settle for a FG after the first instant replay overturn in Super Bowl history. They blew the snap which gave Buffalo the ball but Kelly promptly threw an interception. Three plays later Rypien turned it back over with a pick of his own.

NFL Fallout: The Redskins were riding high after the Super Bowl win. They made the playoffs the next year but after that Gibbs retired and the Hogs went into a tailspin that eventually landed them in the hands of Snyder. The Bills were once again thwarted but would return to the big game the next two years with again disappointing results.

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Wednesday, January 27

Super Bowl Countdown #21: Super Bowl XXXIII

During the two weeks preceding the Super Bowl, I will be counting down the best Super Bowls I have witnessed in my lifetime, starting in 1988. I created a ranking system and will go game by game reliving each edition until the top Super Bowl is listed.

In the prime(time?) position on my countdown is the Meh in Miami. This game belonged to Mr. Elway and he rode off into the sunset with atop his white horse. While both teams entered with a combined 36-4 record, the game turned out to be a snoozer but quite a exclamation on the brilliant two-year run of the Broncos in the late 90s.

Denver Broncos 34, Atlanta Falcons 19

Semi-Lame Nickname: Elway's Last Ride


Historical Significance- 3.5:
The previous year's Super Bowl was an epic clash between Elway and Favre that resulted in number 7 finally winning the big one. He chose to come back and won the game at age 38. The Falcons had reached their first game after downing the Vikings in overtime in the NFC Championship Game (sound familiar?), sorry Vikes' fans. The Broncos were seeking to become the first repeat champions since the Cowboys 5 years earlier.

Game Enjoyment by the Fans- 3: The Elway factor certainly captivated audiences, but not entirely since like I stated mostly everyone was pulling for him the year prior. The Falcons played the underdog role despite their good record since they beat the highest scoring team in the 15-1 Vikings in the NFC Championship(again, sorry Vikings fans). All in all the game was a letdown.

High Profile Element- 3: Jamal Anderson(pre-blow in a bathroom stall) was the representative of the Dirty Bird Nation. Longtime slinger Chris Chandler provided the firepower from behind center in what proved to be balanced offense throughout the season, but the biggest name on the Falcons was their coach, Dan Reeves. After guiding Elway to 3 Super Bowl losses with the Broncos, Reeves was now the stoic leader of Atlanta. Recovering from an emergency coronary bypass after week 14, Reeves became an inspiration to the team.

Venue/Atmosphere- 3.5: There are reasons the Super Bowl will be in Miami for the 10th time this year. The weather is not the only valid one, but it helps. At the time of this game, the stadium in Miami Gardens was called Pro Player, formerly Joe Robbie. Since then it has become Dolphins Stadium(puke), Landshark Stadium(Just say no to beer in clear bottles), and now the mellowed-out Sun Life Stadium. However, there were some drawbacks to this South Florida celebration; the pregame was narrated by Violet M. Bickerstaff Tori Spelling(+10 internet points if you get that reference) and the national anthem was sung by Cher. The halftime featured Big Bad Vodoo Daddy(riding their crest of late 90s swing revival), Gloria Estefan(got nothing for love for my fellow Cane), and Stevie Wonder. Weird combo but not too shabby either.

Personal Enjoyment- 2: If you can't tell I had had enough of the Elway-a-thon. The build-up to the game was laced with "will he or won't he retire" talks by the media when it was painfully obvious that if the Broncos won he would. Once the Broncos asserted their dominance in the game there was little flash except for Tim Dwight kickoff return.

Cleet's Rating Index: 14.5

Where I was:
This game occurred during my senior year of High School. I attended a Super Bowl party a girl named Ashley's house. Parents were present so no shenanigans took place (more punch anyone?). This was my first introduction to the use of the grid scoring system where you pick two numbers out of the hat and if the score reaches your combo of numbers at the end of any of the quarters you win stuff. I got 5 and 2 I think.

What Happened in the World: Ten days before the game the U.S. Coast Guard made a cocaine bust of 43 tons off the Texas coast. No word on how much of that was going to George W.

Record of Note: Reeves became the 4th coach to try and fail at the Super Bowl 4 times. The other coaches to accomplish the quadrant of pain: Bud Grant(swear I am not picking on you Vikings fans), Don Shula and Marv Levy.

Game MVP: Elway threw for 336 yards and rushed for a TD of his known.

LVP: Eugene Robinson. In one of the more notorious flubs of Super Bowl lore, Robinson decided he needed to ease the tension the night before the big game. What better way to unwind in South Florida then to offer a young lady 40 bucks for a quick bob of the nob? If the lady happens to be an undercover cop, then the decision was flawed. If you received the Bart Starr award for "high moral character" earlier that day, then maybe a lurid movie in the quiet of your hotel room might have been a better choice. Robinson was toasted in the first quarter by Rod Smith for 41 yards setting up a score and an 80 yard TD reception which did him no favors in the press. However, Robinson continued on in his career and now is the radio color analyst for the Carolina Panthers and coaches high school football in Charlotte. He followed the Hugh Grant/Charlie Sheen/Charles Barkley method of recovering publicly from soliciting prostitution, well done sir but for the 33rd Super Bowl, you still get the LVP.

Most Memorable Play: Elway sneaking it in for his last TD as a pro.

NFL Fallout The Falcons turned out to only have one Super Bowl in them. They quickly fell into the NFL basement, but only a few season later their fortunes would change forever as they traded with the Chargers for the first overall pick which they used to draft Michael Vick, insert dog joke here. The Broncos had continued success after Elway retired, but never again reached the Super Bowl. The closest they came was 2005 when Jake Plummer lead them into the AFC title game but fell to the Steelers at home. Other quarterbacks were held unfairly to Elway's standards. Brian Griese was practically run out of town and Jay Cutler was initially lauded as the next strong-arm leader at Mile High, he was labeled a sour puss and traded by the Josh McDaniels regime. Mike Shanahan now resides in Washington, how many Bronco fans would take him back right now I wonder?

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Tuesday, January 26

Super Bowl Countdown #22: Super Bowl XXXVII

During the two weeks preceeding the Super Bowl, I will be counting down the best Super Bowls I have witnessed in my lifetime, starting in 1988. I created a ranking system and will go game by game reliving each edition until the top Super Bowl is listed.

The last, but in some ways not least of the my list was the final Super Bowl ever to be played in January. It featured two teams that have since gone southward in their fortunes since they met in San Diego. Continue on for the breakdown of the Sideways San Diego Sunday.

Tampa Bay Bucs 48, Oakland Raiders 21

Semi-Lame Nickname: The Gruden Bowl


Historical Significance- 3: The Raiders were riding the Autumn Wind back to prominence on the California Coast. Tampa had finally broken through after years of failure in the playoffs. The twist was the coaching impact on the NFL. Tony Dungy had been ousted and Gruden had been snatched away from the Raiders. Dungy landed with the Colts and the rest, as they say, is history.

Game Enjoyment by the Fans- 2: The game was a blowout, with the Bucs scoring 17 in the 2nd quarter after a 3-3 1st quarter tie. It was not enjoyable unless your were a Tampa fan and the second half was a formality. The Raiders could only cut it to 34-21 before the Bucs pulled away for good.

High Profile Element- 3.5: The Gruden factor was no doubt compelling, and the rest of the game was a mish mash of notable names. The Raiders had the bookend Hall of Famer wideouts Tim Brown and Jerry Rice. Rich Ganon had flourished in the offense that John Gruden on the opposing sidelines had helped craft. The Raiders boasted the number one offense, but on the other side was a league-leading defense. Led by Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice on the front line, Derrick Brooks at middle linebacker, and John Lynch with Ronde Barber in the backfield, the Bucs defense held sway in this game.

Venue/Atmosphere- 3.5: Isn't it great how you get to here how great a city San Diego is every time a sporting event transpires there? I am pretty sick of it myself, and while I am sure the Whale's Vagina is heavenly, it does not blow me away(I'd move there in a second though). The logo gets points for having a phallic quality. Do people still remember that Qualcomm used to be Jack Murphy Stadium? For the national anthem, the Dixie Chicks and Celine Dion sang God Bless America. Not my cup of tea, but I all Toby Keithing aside, I've listened to 'Fly' a couple times in my day. I do not for the life of me get the whole Celine Dion thing. It sounds to me like she is choking on the most elegant frog ever in existence when she belts it. I thought that one song about it all coming back to her was decent until Meatloaf covered it and he freakin slaughtered that bitch.

The Halftime show was headlined by Shania Twain. Hottie no doubt, but opening a football contest halftime show with 'I Feel Like A Woman' is not what I was looking for, and I am pretty sure she lip-synced those opening songs. No Doubt and Sting came in for mop-up duty.

This promo was the shit though:

Personal Enjoyment- 2: This game held little interest for me outside of the whole Gruden aspect. My team(**Disclaimer: Yes, my fandom of the Patriots comes into play in this countdown, since how I viewed these games often had a correlation to the team and how they did that season. But rest assured, no Pats Super Bowl is in the top 3 for various reasons as you will see.) had not even made the playoffs but this was before the Patriots were the bunch they were now, 2001 was a bonus and I doubted they would reach the big game again. I still enter every Super Bowl (unless my team is in it) like everyone else hoping for a close game. This one obviously disappointed.

Cleet's Rating Index: 14

Where I was: I was halfway through my senior year at the U, and by this point I was completely mailing it in on my Biology Degree. I made the mistake of switching Super Bowl parties at halftime and ended up at the lamer of the two. Since the game was unwatchable this was a lose-lose.

What Happened In The World: Two days before the game the Department of Homeland Security began Operations, don't you feel safer?

Record of Note: Jerry Rice caught a 48-yard TD pass and became the first player to catch a TD pass in 4 different Super Bowls.

Game MVP: Dexter Jackson had 2 picks of Ganon, he had 17 in his entire NFL career. Not the first time a DB parlayed a big Super Bowl into contract dollars. Jackson had declared for Free Agency before the game, and was eyed by the Steelers but signed with Arizona so Pittsburgh ended up drafted some guy named Polamalu.

LVP: Each game in the countdown will also have a Least Valuable Player. For this game it goes to Barret Robbins. For Robbins it truly is a sad story and the intent is not to disparage his bipolar condition. But dude, you were a Pro-Bowl center with your meds, should have stayed on them. The Raiders center went on a massive bender the week before the game and was given the boot. Ganon was sacked 5 times.

Most Memorable Play: Courtesy of NFL Films(3:45 in the vid here), Jon Gruden's knowledge of the Raider offense was on full display as John Lynch announced a play as "Sluggo 6" before a snap in the 2nd quarter. I learned from Jon on MNF that a) he has a nickname for everyone, "I'm gonna call this guy the torch hurler!" and b) a "sluggo" is a slant and go. MVP Dexter Jackson must have heard Lynch because he jumped the rout and picked off Ganon. This is the kind of knowledge that makes it ridiculous to argue that the Pats spied on the Rams before Super Bowl 36; the Bucs had intimate knowledge of the other team before the Super Bowl.

NFL Fallout: The Raiders have yet to recovered from this game. Calahan was gone after going 4-12 the following season. The Raiders are yet to win more than 5 games in a year since this game. Little hope remains for the franchise while Al Davis rules it from his sarcophagus. On the other side the Bucs had a decent run with Gruden; aside from the title, they made the playoffs two more times but never advanced far. They have since scrapped the entire Gruden operation and are starting from scratch. Ronde Barber remains as the only remnant of the Super Bowl defense.

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Monday, January 25

Super Bowl Countdown

I started a tradition of ignoring as much media coverage of the Super Bowl as possible. That is the wonder of the blogosphere, you can choose what you want to read and watch regarding the big game. I refuse to subject myself to inane babble of TWWL and even with this resistance I still catch some of it by accident. There is nothing I can provide that will be different or groundbreaking for what will be said about the game. This left me with a decision of what to do with Super Bowl theme between now and the game. You could say I could do nothing but then how will I entertain myself by writing this blog?

Therefore, I will be doing a countdown of the best Super Bowls I have seen in my lifetime. I prefer to make lists of events I witnessed so starting with the first football I remember watching, Super Bowl 22 and ranked each Super Bowl, 22 in all based on a index I created out of thin air. Between now and the big game I will be running down my list of games.

I made the rankings based on five categories, each category ranges from 1-5:

Historical Significance: Previous Success to the teams involved, Rivalries between players, coaches or regions, was the game involved in a dynasty run.

Game enjoyment by the mass public: Do people often reference the game in discussions/arguments, was it a close game/competitive, memorable plays involved, records set, the water cooler factor(were people giving it attention as a great game right after it was played?)

High Profile Element: Hall of Fame/All-time greats involved, great coaching personas, and franchise caché.

Venue/Atmosphere: Host Stadium, Crowd involvement, Pageantry, Host city, media hype.

Personal Enjoyment: Lists are subjective to begin with, so the final element is my own subjective opinion on each of the games.

Game #22 will kick-off things tomorrow.

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Super Bowl XLIV: De-Cleeting

The downside to having a "real job" is not being able to blog during the day. Instead ideas swim through your head and by the time you get home any current story has passed. What can I add that has not been said today about the conference championship games? Also, what can I say about the Super Bowl that will not be said in the upcoming weeks?

NFC Championship

The Vikings' struggles with ball handling was not on Favre, but that last throw was. I give credit to him for hanging in there, even after getting hit in a should-have-been Brady Rule penalty. It does not excuse that last throw, he denied the team a chance to kick the winning FG. The haters will enjoy the fail, and the Favre defenders will try not to cite the pick as where Minnesota lost. I am sure Saints fans feel no remorse for the win. Finally a kicker makes a pivotal playoff kick this year. Sean Payton is going to have to come up with the coaching job of his life in order to beat the Colts.

AFC Championship

The Jets' great start was not a mirage, but Peyton and Tom Moore simply wait until the second half and make the adjustments. The Jets defense could not stop the onslaught and once Shonn Greene went down the end was inevitable. Peyton is going down in the book as one of the greatest because of his on-field precision but also because he is competitive. That jab he took at Rex Ryan postgame about the Colts keeping their mouths shut was totally intentional.

Super Bowl Time

A few thoughts on the last football game of meaning we have until August:

-Greg Williams, it is time to earn your paycheck. The Saints defensive coordinator will need a Steve Spagnolo-like effort in order for New Orleans to win.

-I usually tire of teams in the Super Bowl playing the "no one thinks we can win" line, but with the line sure to swell in the coming weeks, Saints players should hype it up.

-With drama-filled games in recent Super Bowls, there is no reason not to expect this game to be competitive. Obvious old adage alert: The team that turns over the ball more will lose.

-Prepare for the following stories to inundate your brain cells: Peyton/Archie Manning New Orleans connections and who doesn't want to revisit Hurricane Katrina again?

-Prediction time: I picked the Saints before the season to win the Super Bowl, and even though the Colts are the favorite, I am not backing down now. Saints in a classic 31-30. Brees wins MVP and does the Carlton Dance down Bourbon Street.

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Thursday, January 21

Excuse Me While I Rip This Guy: Team of the Decade

Through certain channels I learned that ESPN was still squeezing the college football orange after the end of the season up until signing day. This has led to a similar phenomenon around the interwebs of making decade lists in different categories for different sports. Pat Forde has chimed in on a variety of topics while looking back on the last ten years of college football. The one that caught my attention was his "single most dominant team of the decade" post. Upon hearing about this at the office I immediately began a plan in my head to attack his analysis and reasoning because he chose the 2004 USC Trojans over the 2001 Miami Hurricanes. While I had a myriad of things to do at work I decided to wait until I got home and then read Forde's article and then proceed to rip it in a tribute to FJM/Big Daddy Drew-Peter King style. However, when I got home and clicked on said post, the reasoning behind his choice was not very involved and neither were the remainder. It appears we have a classic mail-it-in job by Pat. A quick relevant topic that would provoke debate and remembrance among its readers but did not require any real thought. That's fine, but one of the glories of the internet is that irrelevant people can bitch on irrelevant blogs about inane ramblings of paid journalists who sometimes get lazy on the job. Fear not! I will press on and attempt to show that the best team we saw take the field in the aughts were the 2001 squad from the U. The analysis after the break.

The single most dominant team of the decade boils down to a two-squad debate: USC '04 or Miami '01.

Okay, I can get down with this.

The Hurricanes produced an astonishing amount of pro talent and stampeded to a perfect record

Also true.

but they also were slightly lessened by facing an underwhelming Nebraska team in the 2002 Rose Bowl.

How does them facing a Nebraska team that did not necessarily deserve to be there lessen who they were as a team? They did win that game right? Hmm, let me check: 37-14. Yeah was pretty much no contest. So Miami should be docked points because the BCS is stupid and illogical?

The Cornhuskers should never have been there after being humiliated by Colorado but got the nod anyway.

I cannot argue this point. Nebraska got drilled by Colorado for their lone loss. This lead to them losing a tiebreaker to get into the Big 12 title game. Texas from last year would agree that sometimes you don't get into the conference title game because of 5th level tiebreakers. There was no other undefeated team. A one-loss Oregon team were who many thought should be there, but we can't turn back the clock and by all means Oregon could have pulled an upset but they were not superior to the team Miami fielded.

USC '04, meanwhile, stamped its final mark by annihilating undefeated Oklahoma, 55-19, in the 2005 Orange Bowl.

Anyone who watched that game, much like the Miami Rose Bowl could see that the opponent was not in the league of the victor. Must I really rehash Oklahoma's recent BCS bowl history aside from their 2000 title(an Orange Bowl in which they really should have played[and most likely would have lost to] the Hurricanes who beat FSU 13-2 that year but got the nod which led to a change in the BCS formula). In 2004 Oklahoma was not the only undefeated title contender. The Auburn Tigers went undefeated, in the SEC, and were denied a chance to play USC. Maybe USC would have not won by such a big margin, or at all, because SEC SPEED IS BLINDING FAST OMGWTFBBQ!!!11one. See it works both ways, every BCS year you can point to who the champion should have or could have played to win the title.

This was the best Trojans team from the best program of the decade.

I concede the Trojans had the program of the decade, no argument from me there and 2004 might have been their best team but this is determining which team is the best of the decade, not the best of the best program. We all know Miami has sank in stature during this decade, but in 2001 they were the elite of the sport.

The Trojans became just the second wire-to-wire No. 1 team in the AP poll (Florida State did it in 1999), finishing it off with that absolute crushing of the Sooners.

Are we really using this as evidence? Preseason polls! USC was voted number one and stayed there because they did not lose. Miami started number two behind Florida, who would lose twice. Miami had slapped the Gators 37-20 around in the Sugar Bowl the previous season yet voters somehow voted Florida higher in that preseason. How can this be criteria for deciding which team is better?

The score was 38-10 at halftime for a USC team that combined dazzling offense (Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, LenDale White, Dwayne Jarrett, Steve Smith, Ryan Kalil, Deuce Lutui) and brutal defense (Lawrence Jackson, Mike Patterson, Shaun Cody, Lofa Tatupu).

Using words like dazzling is a fabulous way to accentuate your argument or a 6th grade book report on the Twilight Series.

Andre Johnson, Jeremy Shockey, Clinton Portis, Bryant McKinnie, Vince Wilfork, D.J. Williams, Jonathan Vilma, Ed Reed … those are just some of the future NFL stars who populated this Hurricanes roster.

Yeah, they are just some. 16 players from that team ended up being drafted in the first-round of the NFL draft, including 5 from in the subsequent 2002 NFL draft. I know pro drafting spots and to an extent pro performance is not the ultimate indicator of a team's greatness on the college football field, but in this category Miami wins over USC hands down.

The surprise is not that the Hurricanes stomped their way through the season undefeated -- it's that they were prevented the next year from repeating.

You had to throw this in there didn't you? What a stupid thing to say. It has nothing to do with the 2001 team that the 2002 team was not awarded the 2002 BCS title. The 2002 Hurricanes were very talented but they did not have the same roster(no Portis, McKinnie, Shockey, Rumph, Buchanon, OR ED REED) and we will not venture down he road of the interference call again.

How come at the end of the USC description you did not say "The surprise is not that the Trojans stomped their way through the season undefeated-- it's that they were prevented the next year from repeating."

Sound familiar no? The 2005 Trojans ran to the title game following their 2004 season but lost to Vince Young and Texas with Leinart and Bush. Yep, they failed too. Why no mention of that?

All in all, both teams are great but if you are going to put one above the other you need to come up with better reasons that one team played a certain team in the title game and one team was not ranked number 1 at the beginning of the season.

Now to some stats:

-Miami scored 42.6 ppg, allowed 9.75 ppg, 32.9 avg. margin of victory, NCAA record for consecutive margin of victory over ranked opponents -- they beat #14 Syracuse 59-0 and then #12 Washington 65-7. 6 All-Americans.

-USC scored 38.2 ppg, allowed 13.0 ppg, 25.0 avg. margin of victory, Matt Leinart won the Heisman, 6 All-Americans.

-Miami beat 5 ranked opponents, USC 3.

-The draft info has been mentioned but just to reiterate:
Miami has 14 stars from that team still in the league. Back-ups from that team were Kellen Winslow, Sean Taylor(RIP), Antrel Rolle, and Vernon Carey.

USC has an impressive list as well (53 players that were on that roster are now in the NFL) including Keith Rivers, Steve Smith, Bush, Lofa Tutupu, Fred Davis, Ryan Kalil, Winston Justice and LenDale White. However some of them were not as high profile in the league for their play like Leinart, John David Booty and Matt Cassell(both never really played in 2004), Dwayne Jarrett, and the infamous Mike Williams.

Before the 2005 Trojans lost to Texas in the Rose Bowl ESPN held an online poll about the best college football teams of all-time; only the 2001 Hurricanes were voted ahead of USC. Pat Forde may have a history of bashing the Canes and this may have just been a 5 minute article throw away, but it does not make him any less wrong in my view and those that agree with me. The 2001 Hurricanes were the best ever. I'll end it by letting them say it in their own words:

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Tuesday, January 19

This Week In Sports Hate: The Colts

I made my feelings clear that the Colts' move in their week 16 game against the Jets was a lame decision by Bill Polian. I was back in the Queen City this weekend to gather my furniture(is there anything worse than moving in life, seriously?) and it afforded me an evening out with some old friends, which probably compose half of this blog's readership, and my co-blogger Catfish. After the Colts put away the Ravens and I had imbibed a good amount of beer, Catfish and I embarked on a spirited argument about that fateful Colts decision. While he took the "smart move" it's about winning the Super Bowl angle, he also said that opposing view was based on the fact that I am a Patriots fan and the 18-1 season incapacitated me from rational thought.

I can assure you this was not the case. I perhaps could not articulate my reasoning due to the inebriated state I was in. Point of fact, I was actually rooting for the Colts and earlier the Saints to run the table. When the Colts threw up the white flag I was angry at the manner in which they did it and the fact that I had actually been rooting for the Colts. At that moment I wished an early playoff death on Indy, which did not come to pass. They are the heavy favorites to beat the Jets on Sunday, the very team they laid down for so a Super Bowl appearance is likely. In my opinion though, even if they hoist the Lombardi trophy the way in which they refused to go for history will always be the sub-headline from this season. Then, I saw this:

via KSK(who has some great Colts hate recently)

The best thing about this hand gesture is the subtleties it employs to try to differentiate it from the famed symbol of my alma mater. "You see, our symbol is different because you overlap the thumb knuckles and slightly tilt the sides in." Which is dumb because horseshoes are rounded on the outside. Those minor changes to the "Shoe" remind me of when Vanilla Ice said that the bass line to 'Ice Ice Baby' was different from Queen's 'Under Pressure'. Like when Rome had to put Florida in its place for claiming U-hood, the Colts need just sit back and enjoy their on field success or at least try to be creative. Speaking of creativity:

What an apropos slogan for the times we live in. Enjoy your playoff run Indy, but you will always think of what might have been had you decided to go for greatness and not be simply another edition of a could-be NFL champion. Winning the trophy does not justify doing the duck-and-cover when history challenged your team's will.

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Friday, January 15

It's Friday

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Tuesday, January 12

Sometimes You Forget: Grandma Ma

Today there was news of a former UNLV player auctioning their 1990 Championship ring on Ebay. The player has yet to be named, and it is doubtful that it is Larry Johnson but the mention of his name brought back a lot of memories for someone who grew up in Charlotte. I can still smell the aroma of nachos and popcorn in the Charlotte Coliseum.

LJ was the first round pick of the Hornets in 1991 and was the catalyst for their run of success in the 1990s. The next year the Hornets picked Alonzo Mourning second which created one of the best tandems of the decade in the NBA and in NBA Jam. Johnson won Rookie of the Year and became the Hornets' first All-Star in 1993.

The Hornets, who were known for their tremendous home crowds and at the time trendy teal and purple colors, became one of the more popular teams in the league. In 1993 the Hornets made the playoffs and faced the Celtics, the old guard. In a series that marked a true contrast of teams, and the unfortunate end of Reggie Lewis's career(rest assured Johnny Newman is still guarding him), the Hornets pulled out the series with a Alonzo Mourning winner with .4 seconds left in game 4.

So many epic things in that video, the least of which was the Hornet dancers, the Honeybees, running out to join the midcourt celebration or Alan Bristow's hair. Charlotte fell to the New York Knicks in the next series.

The next year the Hornets won 50 games in 1994-95 and faced the Jordan-No.45 edition Bulls in the first round. The 3-1 series defeat was the end of the Hornets as we knew them. LJ signed the most lucrative contract in the league at the time, a 12-year, $84 million contract. This contract was only part of the schism that developed between LJ and Alonzo and Hornets management. Mourning wanted to be the big dog and the Hornets refused to pay him like one; he was traded to the Miami Heat after the 1995 season for Glenn Rice and Matt Geiger. Johnson soon developed back problems and never recovered his former explosive form. In 1996 he was traded to the Knicks for Anthony Mason and the juggernaut that was Brad LoHaus. In two years the Hornets rose up as the Young Guns of the NBA but egos, money, and a bad back tore it all down.

LJ became a fan favorite on the Knicks but never was able to put up his All-Star numbers. He got in a tiff with Bill Walton, hit a memorable 4-pointer, and even settled some unfinished business with Alonzo in the playoffs.

LJ retired in 2001 but in the minds of Charlotte Hornets fans he will always be remembered for his time in the Queen City and his Grandma Ma persona. Johnson has been mostly absent from the public eye but he will never be forgotten by Hornets fans, or fans of Urkel.

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Monday, January 11

Oye Breaston

via KSK

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NFL Wildcard De-Cleeting: Line Play Wins In January

The old crumudgens can lean back and crack a smile after the manner in which the Wildcard Weekend played out. Despite the NFL changing the rules to help receivers and quarterbacks again and again and offenses putting up tremendous passing numbers, the play ni the trenches still wins in the NFL. The stats do not lie in this case, the league is more offensive-minded and pass-oriented. You might even think we are one step away from playing football how they play it in Starship Troopers. Before we start imagining a silver football, Denise Richards in the crowd, or the dude who stole Kelly from Zack being a part of football, the weekend was a reminder that if you can pressure the quarterback with your front four, run the ball and control possesion, and capitalize on the turnovers pressure causes you can win.

Time For A Bungles Pun

Rex Ryan may have the candor of a singing wall bass, but the man has successfully transplanted the Ravens philosophy to the Jets. Showing that the previous Sunday Night game was not entirely a fluke, the Jets offensive line pounded the Bengals until there was little left. Offensively the Bengals were equally inept; Palmer is a shade of what he was, there was miscommunication on routes, and the players looked far from prepared. The Bengals had been waiting for 4 years to return to the playoffs and their coach burned both challenges in the first half. They were not prepared from the top down and if I were Cincinnati I would consider blowing this team up and starting over. But back to the Jets, with that type of running game and blitz-happy defense, Ryan was not crazy in beleiving his team had a chance. He was crazy to state they should be the favorite all the way to Miami. The Jets style leaves little room for error. Mark Sanchez did play well, helping to dispell the cold weather theory(it was his own 2002 Bucs NFC Championship game) but with a Ron Rivera defense lining up this weekend they will have to come up with something better than roll out passes to the tight end to keep the defense honest for the running game.

Star Spits Back

Was there anyone else that felt like their innards were squirming when they saw this?:

Their hand clasp was not even close to the most epic one of all-time, but I digress. Even more uncomfortable than W and Emmitt. All appears to be well for Jer-uh and the Boys after throttling the Eagles two weeks in a row. Many streaks were broken in this game: Tony Romo's winless playoff, the Cowboys 14 year playoff streak, Reid's first round undefeated record. With the offense finally soaring this time of year, Wade has been allowed to focus on defense and rag on him all you want for his head coaching prowess, the man knows defense. DeMarcus Ware gets all the pub, but Jay Ratliff and Anthony Spencer have prevented teams from throwing most of their O-line at Ware to save their QBs time. Unfortunate for the Eagles that their center went down, but that is football. The Eagles secondary was scrambling all over the place because the push on Romo was not where it usually is for an Eagles defense. The Vikings' gameplanning should be interestnig considering their O-line has been such an issue and they have this beastly D-line coming in.

Haters are Happy

I have already said my piece on the end of the Patriots as we currently know them. Catfish threw me a text after I lamented to him about the domination the Ravens laid down, it said I knew this was coming. That is true, I knew the Patriots fall was coming in the post-season with or without Welker but I did not know the fall would be off a speeding train into a canyon instead of a slight fall off the roof of a one-story house. Aside from the horrid line play, the offense is still way to predictable and Belichick needs a solid playcaller in the fold. Weis was snapped up by Kansas City which I thought would have been a great re-addition. There has to be an innovative playcaller than is willing to work with Brady and Welker next year. There has to be a better running game and as for Randy Moss, I think he has outlived his usefullness in New England.

The Ravens may not have the defense they did 9 years ago, but their assault on Tom Brady forced him into turnovers and completely sqaushed the Pats offensive attack. The Pats defense had no answer for the runnning game. Vince Wilfork is an outstanding defensive lineman, but when those around him cannot make plays he gets double and sometimes triple-teamed. The Ravens are going to be primed to face the Colts who are in that oh so familiar postion of not playing live football for 3 weeks. The Ravens are going to try to squeeze the clock as much as they can but if Peyton is on his game he only needs about 15 minutes (see: Dolphins game). The Ravens have a long history with the Colts, even in the playoffs and aside from one blowout last year the games are usually close. The Ravens will have to finish if they want to win, playing ball control and forcing FGs is nice, but they need TDs. I would be very nervous if I were a Colts fan this week.

Not As Tuck

Perhaps I was still reeling from the Pats game or maybe Joe Buck's dulcet tones put my mind in a haze, but after seeing the play to end the insane 51-45 overtime win by the Cardinals I was mumbling "tuck rule" to myself. After shaking my head and watching again I see the ball never hit the turf, which renders the tuck rule irrelevant. Fitting that in a game were defense took a back seat, defensive line pressure made the winning play. Neither team's defensive line will get a gold star but Arizona did sack Aaron Rodgers 5 times including the final pressure play by Michael Adams. I expect to see more of the same next week in New Orleans, which will have purists shouting about how putrid the defenses are and will leave fans loving the back and forth action. It is not unthinkable that the 96 total points and 1024 yards of offense will not be topped when the Cards play the Saints.

Quick Word About Pete Carroll

Word is the deal is finalized for Pete to take his SoCal attitude to the Pacific northwest. This may be a bolt due to the NCAA hammer coming down on USC finally but it also is the chance Pete wanted to succeed in the NFL, on his own terms. His stints in New York and New England were, in his mind, not a fair shake because he did not have complete autonomy. He has it now, there is nowhere to lay blame if the Seahawks continue to struggle. He has always been respected as a bright defensive mind, in college and the NFL, but his success at USC does not easily translate to the NFL. It will be a whole new skill set he will have to pull from in dealing with multi-millionare mindsets as opposed to being the unquestioned king in L.A. The dude-brah attitude may resonate with the coffeehouse patrons of Seattle, but unless Carroll has revolutionary epiphany when it comes to directing a professional team he will be chased back to college like some of his recent predecessors have.

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Thursday, January 7

What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been To The BCS Title

Tonight the teams the BCS selected to play for the title will meet on the wonderfully kept field of the Rose Bowl. Intensity from the teams and their fan bases will create a swirl of crimson and burnt orange. At the end of the night the winner will either be rolling or hooking. Both teams were on a mission to make this game after it eluded them last year and now, after emotional conference title games; Bama smoked Florida in a rematch and Texas had to hit a FG with 1 second left to get past Nebraksa.

In case your scoring at home and even if you are not, those games happened 32 days ago. Despite this being the mythical championship game for the 2009 season, it is far removed from those 13 games. It is a season by its self. A one game season after a month of practice, interviews, and much ballyhoo from media members and message boards. There is no momentum, whether it is the positive kind the Tide had after beating Florida or the negative kind Texas may have had after a bad performance in Dallas. It is a new year, a new season and winning this game depends on who has prepared better, who is sharper mentally, and which team exploits their strengths.

If a team comes out flat from their respite too bad, this is the only chance they get and the clear football is at stake. Colt McCoy has had nowhere near the year he had last year but he is here and all he needs is one good game. His struggles do not matter because he only has to be good tonight. Problem is the Tide is strong up front and will be certain to apply pressure like they did to Tebow and like Nebraska did to Suh. On the other side Greg McElroy's near perfect game against Flroida in Atlanta does not mean anything now. He has to repeat that performance and it has been a long time since he has taken a live game snap. Texas's defense has been their strength this year and they will have their hands full with Heisman winner Mark Ingram and the big Alabama offensive line. The coaches from both teams know this, and know that the other coaching staff knows they know. Everybody knows. They have had weeks to look at film and craft and hone and implement their gameplans. In one sense, there is almost too much time to prepare because as much as Nick Saban would like to believe, do not live in a bubbleand the longer it takes to take the field, the more time there is for players to lose focus, get overconfident, or get a stomach bug.

My lean, like most of the country, is with Alabama. While I do not expect a performance like the SEC title game from the Tide their advantages on the lines cannot be ignored. The trend has been this bowl season that the team that is more physical up front has won the games, and this game should follow suit. I would like to see Texas give them a good game and I think they will. If Texas is razor sharp for 60 minutes then they will take it. Ultimately I think the Tide wins by a touchdown in a game that will be a letdown to watch. However, before we kick things off between the battle of these "college football storied programs"(look for Brent to say that a lot), let's take a look back on some things that have happened in the world since we last saw a game that had an impact on the mythical national championship about to be decided.

-Dick Clark counted us into a new year and decade...sort of.
-Kimbo Slice won a UFC fight
-Mark Ingram won the Heisman, becoming the first Alabama player to do so.
-Mike Leach was suspended, then fired.
-Tiger Woods....enough said.
-TMZ sports was birthed from the canal of the tabloid hungry sports culture we have created.
-Urban Meyer decided to step down as Florida coach to reconnect with one daughter who was happy to have her Dad back and another who wanted to have a meaninful conversation with him. Then he said screw it, family life and chest pains be damned.
-The Colts pissed on history for what they think is a definite Super Bowl run.
-Gilbert Arena did his Cactus Jack impersonation, and got suspended.
-Laker fans showed how much they disliked the Christmas Day officiating, but stayed classy by only tossing harmless foam fingers.
-George Michael died. No not that one, that one.
-Pacquiao vs. Mayweather ran into problems because of testing.
-Pot Bobby Knight called out kettle John Calipari for questionable practices in coaching integrity.
-Brian Kelly abandoned his undefeated Cincinnati team to coach Notre Dame.
-Chris Henry died after jumping from his fiance's truck.
-The Big Ten thought about expansion.
-The U put on a show for the country and became ESPN's highest rated documentary ever.
-Roy Williams kicked a guy out of a game at the Dean Dome for yelling "Miss it".
-And 34 bowl games have been played that have no bearing on determining a champion.

Enjoy the game which probably means you have will have to mute Brent.

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Tuesday, January 5

Our MVPST Is Josh Cribbs

In my mind, there are 3 obvious MVP choices this year in the NFL. Here are ours in order:

Peyton Manning: Curtis Painter nods in agreement
Chris Johnson: The guy is just insane. One of the best seasons ever.
Drew Brees: Fell off toward the end, but after they beat the Pats he was the leading candidate.

While I think Peyton will and deserves to win the award, and other players deserve mentions as well (like Andre Johnson) I think Josh Cribbs deserves some praise for what he did this year. Of course being on the Browns, who had to win 4 in a row to get to 5-11, there is little chance he enters the discussion.

Cribbs had 2,510 all-purpose yards this year, which is 5th all-time and he averaged 14.9 yards per touch, which is 6th all-time. Now let's take into consideration the Browns:

27th in point differential
32nd in yard differential
29th in take-away ratio
29th in points
32nd in yardage gained

Cribbs had over half the yardage the entire team did. He was third on the team in points scored with 36 behind James Harrison and the kicker Phil Dawson. His 6 TDs scored were achieved by 4 different methods: 3 kick-off returns, a punt return, a rushing TD, and a receiving TD. The 2 return TDs had against Kansas City broke the NFL career record. He also recovered 2 fumbles on defense. There is also the calculation that cannot me measured in stats which is his ability to make teams give the Browns good field position. Of course, with Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson's performances this year they often did nothing with it. Cribbs was even asked to come in and run a version of the wildcat. He played in every game,even after taking a monster hit at the end of the Ravens Monday night game.

This is where the Bears missed the boat on Devin Hester in my opinion. This is how you utilize someone with explosive speed and return vision. So while Cribbs will not hoist the hardware(he did make the Pro Bowl however) in a few weeks or even be in the voting, he gets our Most Valuable Player on a Shitty Team Award. Since this blog is not lucrative we have little to offer Josh, so a 'atta boy' will have to do.

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Monday, January 4

Sometime You Forget: Big Monday Is Almost Here

Football is in full post-season mode. The BcS bowls will be more than halfway home after tonight's Fiesta Bowl. The NFL playoffs start this weekend and a month from now people will be going through withdrawal. For college basketball fans, the early non-conference games gave us a chance to see how far teams had to go and who could be players in March. Big Monday is on the horizon and besides the great basketball, Big Monday reminds me of one thing: Robert Goulet. This was Goulet back before Will Ferrell had his crack at him. These commercials were pure gold. The way the early SC commercials were good for their hokey and random nature. Tonight ESPN starts its run of Monday night match-ups with Pitt playing at the Shoe against Cincinnati. Both teams are 2-0 in the Big East scoring wins over Syracuse and UCONN respectively. that will give us the best of college basketball until March. Will I be watching? No, since the Fiesta Bowl take priority and my commercial filler will likely be the return of Brett Hart to the WWE. However, the college hardwood is in my mind and I am looking forward to getting immersed in it once football dwindles away.

By the way, I know I swore off WWE months ago, but bringing a stroke-ridden Brett is enough to make me give a glance. Brett was always my favorite as a kid. Anyway, here is another Goulet special that was one of my favorites, back when Pitino was coaching the Cats.

Special shout-out to the Concierge on the Goulet commercials, Mrs. Hutchinson's class FTW.

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