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The Horror 05/26/2010

Posted by sportretort in NFL, Sports.
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Snow during the '08 NFC championship game in Green Bay. (Photo from SI.com)

The NFL announced the first ever cold weather outdoor Super Bowl yesterday. The 2014 game will be played in New Jersey in an outdoor stadium. It will be the first Super Bowl game played outdoors in a city where the mean temperature for game day is below 50 degrees. It will not, however, be the first cold weather Championship game the league has played. Back in the day, before Super Bowls and domes, the game was played in the elements. There have been cold games before.

I, for one, have no problem with a game in the elements. I remember the Ice Bowl. Who can ever forget the Tuck Rule game, played in a snowstorm in New England. The MNF Green Bay at Denver blizzard game is STILL one of the most watched Monday games ever. What I find interesting is the reaction of those who do not like it. “What about the fans?” they cry. This is so unfair to the fans.

It snowed during the Oakland-NE 'tuck rule game.' (Photo from SI.com)

Since when does the NFL care about the fan? A few years ago the NFL was receiving complaints about the length of games. Seems they were cutting too far into network TV time. How did the league address the issue? Did they decrease the number of mandatory TV commercial breaks? Did they lower the play clock or decrease the number of time outs per team? No. They decreased the length of halftime, making it virtually impossible for the fans at the stadium to go to the restroom and buy a dog and a beverage without missing playing time. I have been a season ticket holder in the NFL for about 2 decades. I have had my team go to Super Bowls and have never even sniffed tickets to the game. How many real fans can afford to pay upwards of $1,000 for a ticket to the game? Forget about the cost of food, drink and a hotel room. The week before the big game is an orgy of corporate excess, a chance for the NFL to wine and dine their big sponsors. It is not for the average fan. If it were, why not play in every NFL city? Why should fans in Tampa and Phoenix and New Orleans get to host the festivities? If you are from Green Bay or Chicago or Denver, you will never get to host. Why not? If you can throw the parties in Detroit, why not Seattle or Boston? And what about the argument that the game should be played under the best possible circumstances? If that is the case, why do the games take over 4 hours to play? The Super Bowl is packed with so many commercials that there is no flow any more. Half time is almost twice as long as a normal contest for the ‘spectacular’ the NFL provides. These things are for the fans? I think not. Perhaps a good exposure to the early February elements may bring some sense back to the NFL, and to its showcase game.

The Big Apple will get its chance. I say good. Lets also reward fans in the other NFL cities. Lets make the Super Bowl a football game again.

Did anyone actually seen the Fog Bowl in Chicago on the last day of 1988? (photo from SI.com)

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viKINGS 01/15/2010

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The time has come.  This is the reason that Brett Favre manipulated his way into Minnesota.  The journey begins now, and is a 3 game or bust scenario.  All Favre wants is another chance on the NFL’s biggest stage.  All Vikings fans want is to once and for all get the big game monkey off of their back.  All in all, not much to ask for.

We will not explore again all the events that brought Favre to Minnesota.  Lets just say that this journey has tarnished his reputation, and nothing short of a Super Bowl

The Vikings are looking for their first Super Bowl appearance since the Purple People Eaters lead teams of the 1970's

 victory will put the luster back on Favre’s career.  He is a Hall of Famer, to be sure, after he stays away for 5 seasons.  But two years ago he would forever have been known as the gunslinger.  Now, unless he can reach the mountaintop once more, his legacy will be that of the diva.  Just another self-centered manipulator who could only win the big game once.  That fact seems to get lost in all the Favre hype.  He has only led his team to the Super Bowl victory once, defeating the Patriots in SB 31, and becoming one of the biggest favorites to lose the big game in dropping SB 32 to the Broncos.  Favre could have been remembered as one of the greats to win once.  With luminaries such as Steve Young and Joe Theisman.  But the self-centered manipulation of the past few years will drop him into the likes of  Doug Williams and Jeff Hostetler.  Good signal callers to be sure, but not names that come up in any conversation about all time great QB’s.  Two years ago, Favre would have been in that conversation unequivocally.  Now, his name will elicit a “yes, but….” in the conversation.  The gunslinger turned diva needs a return to the top.  It is going to be an uphill climb.

The Vikings have not won an NFL championship since Bud Grant lead them to the league title in 1969.  For those of

Will former Packer Favre help the Vikings finally hoist the Lombardi trophy

you who are too young, that’s  pre Super Bowl.  The long-suffering Vikings fans watched their team drop 4 of the first 11 Super Bowls, and have not been back to the big game since 1977.   Not exactly loveable losers, the Vikings, in fact, have 26 playoff appearances since they joined the NFL in 1961, including 18 division championships.  But the first decade of the 21st century has been their worst decade so far.  After their playoff appearance in 2000, the Vikings made the playoffs only once until the 2008 season.  The Vikings won the NFC North in  ’08 for their first division crown in 8 seasons.   They had a good defense and one of the best running backs in the league in Adrian Peterson, but were lacking an established QB.  Coach Brad Childress had worked with Favre when he was a coach with the Vikings hated rivals, the Green Bay Packers.  Childress tried to land Favre a season earlier, but did not get Favre to the Twin Cities until this season.  Now, with a second consecutive division title in hand,  the Viking fans are rooting for perhaps their most hated rival to lead them to the promised land.  And you thought politics made for strange bed fellows. 

In Favre, they found an egocentric 40-year-old who has developed the habit of late of melting down the stretch.  He did it at the end in Green Bay.  He did it in New York.  In Minnesota, the Vikings started 11-1, but finished 2-3 down the stretch.   All is not bleak, however.  The Vikes secured the # 2 seed in the NFC playoffs.  That gave the Vikings a first round bye, and guarantee that they would play no cold weather games during the playoffs.  Their two NFC games will be in domes (theirs or New Orleans) and the Super Bowl, should they get there, is in Miami.  Still, the Vikings have pinned their Super Bowl hopes on a quarterback who has a  3-7  record in his last 10 playoff starts.  He has 16 touchdowns in those 10 games, but he also has 16 interceptions.  Now, the Vikings are looking to him for 3 straight playoff wins.

Anything short of the Super Bowl will be a failure of the Favre experiment for Minnesota.  The diva may need a victory in the big game to once again become the gunslinger.

Perfection? 12/28/2009

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No one is perfect.  

The Indianapolis Colts lost to the New York Jets 29-15 yesterday, becoming the last team to taste defeat in the NFL this season.  The Colts had become just the third team 

Only the 1972 Dolphins have achieved NFL perfection

 in history to reach the 14-0 mark.  The New England Patriots did it two seasons ago, reaching 18-0 before losing in the Super Bowl to the ew York Giants.  Of course, the 1972 Miami Dolphins completed the only undefeated season in NFL history, completing the 17-0 season with a 14-7 victory over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII.  Leading 12-10 in the third quarter, Colts head coach Jim Caldwell pulled Quarterback Peyton Manning and several other key Colts players from the game.  Indianapolis had already clinched their division, a first round bye and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  They had nothing to play for other than perfection.  But perfection had never been their goal.  Their goal, heck every teams goal is to win the Super Bowl. 

No team enters the season saying that their goal is to finish undefeated.  They all want to win the Super Bowl.  In 2007, the Patriots finished 18-1.  They set the record for 

The Giants ended the Pats bid for perfection in Super Bowl XLII

consecutive wins to start the season, reaching 18-0.  Ask any player on that team if they would rather have been 18-0 or been Super Bowl champs, and 18-0 would not get even one vote.  Perfection adds stress to an already difficult task.  Winning the Super Bowl is hard enough.  The added stress of perfection is not needed.  The 1998 Denver Broncos were defending Super Bowl champs.  They reached 13-0 that season before they lost a game.  In fact, they lost 2 in a row then went on to win their second consecutive Super Bowl.  Many members of that team, a team that had just won the big game the season before, talked about how bad the pressure was to remain undefeated.  Many feel that the loss lifted a weight from their shoulders.  So the Colts may have done themselves a favor.  But don’t tell that to the fans in the stands Sunday that were booing the home standing Colts in the fourth quarter.  Caldwell has been roundly criticized for his decision.  But teams rest their players in the same situation every season.  If the Vikings lose tonight at Chicago, the Saints will lock up home field advantage in the NFC.  If that were to happen, do you not think that several Saints players will have an early end to next weeks game?  Of course they will.  But since the Saints are not playing for perfection, most will not even notice.  In fact, if they do not pull their starters early and some one gets hurt, they will be criticized for taking an unnecessary risk.  Why should the Colts situation be any different? 

Sure, 19-0 would be nice.  But ask the Patriots if they would feel any better if that one blemish in the 18-1 season had come in week 16 rather than in the Super Bowl.  The next mont will tell if the Colts will win the Super Bowl.  With the loss their task just got easier

The Best One Ever? 02/02/2009

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Some random thoughts after a big weekend.

Well, it was a great game.  One of the most exciting 4th quarters.  But, really, the best one ever?  Come on.  Granted, the majority of the first 42 Super Bowls were duds, so, yes, it is ine as one of the best.   It was also one of the most over officiated with over 160 yards in penalties, and more reviews than I can ever remember.  The 100 yard interception return to end the first half made most fans think the game was over. The shoot out at the end between Roethlisburger and Warner changed all that.  Great  4th quarter.  One of the 5 best. 

Kurt Warner has appeared in 3 Super Bowls, going 1-2.  He became the 2nd QB ever to take 2 different teams to the big game (Craig Morton, Dallas and Denver).  But he now has the 3 biggest days as a QB in the game!  Not bad for a former Arena and NFL Europe player.  (AND he has now outlived both of those leagues.)  I think he cemented his Canton Call.

Speaking of Canton, HOW can these pinheads NOT elect Shannon Sharpe?  Guess it is more impressive to be 0-4 in Super Bowls than to be 3-0.  And, the class was not even maxed out!  Shannon will get his due, but he should not have to wait.

And now that the NFL has close for the year, only 9 more days until pitchers and catchers report!

The biggest mouth in Canton. 01/30/2009

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Well, This weekend should be it.  Sometime Saturday, Shannon Sharpe should receive the call that welcomes him into the NFL Hall Of Fame.  This man who redefined the Tight End position will finish his NFL journey.  And it will be well deserved.

People will talk about his 3 Super bowl rings, his thousands of receiving yards, and his mouth.  And what a mouth!  It was ALWAYS running.  And he was always good copy.

I had the pleasure of watching him during  his years in Denver with the Broncos (1990-99 and 2002-03) . He had the hands of a wide receiver and could block like a  guard.  And the man was CLUTCH.  (Right, Steeler fans? Remember the 3rd down catch that sealed the AFC championship before SB XXXII.)   When he left in ’99, many in Denver said good riddance because his act had worn thin.  I was not among them.  I was sorry to see him go.  While I was not one who liked trash talking, in Shannon’s case I think the antics were an extension of his heart and an expression of the joy he found in the game.  I felt that his big mouth was an extension of his big heart.  Who will ever forget his antics?  Weather dancing on the sidelines in a foam Bronco head, taunting an opponent after a catch, or my favorite Shannon moment when he scolded Chris Collinsworth on HBO’s Inside the NFL after Super Bowl XXXII, Shannon gave it his all.  And as much as his 3 rings, 8 pro bowls, 60+ td’s and 10,000+ receiving yards, it is his heart that belings in Canton.  Congrats, Shannon!  You deserve it!!

And Thanks for being the THIRD Bronco in the Hall Of Fame.  It is hard to believe that only 5 short years ago, a franchise that has 2 Super Bowl Championships and 6 AFC Championships had no Canton members.

By the way, I will be rooting for Mr Warner and the Cards, but the Steelers will win by 10.