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The Pro Bowl is Merely a 2009 Campaign for Teams

With the Presidential election over, and the excitement of primaries, caucuses, and delegates far behind us, some people may be in withdrawl.  Whatever will you do without politicians verbally sparring with each other as they fight for the chance to be the next President of the United States?

2008 Campaign

2008 Campaign

There is, however, a solution.  Afterall, nobody really watches the NFL Pro Bowl.  Though it airs in beautiful Hawaii each year (though this year will be the last for the Aloha state), the actual game is boring.  Players obviously play not to get hurt, and the game itself is, truly, more meaningless than the last exhibition game in the pre-season.

With that said, there may be a few reasons to tune in.  Free agency is right around the corner, and many players playing in this game (Albert Haynesworth, TJ Houshmanzadeh, and more) will be free agents.

On ESPN’s NFL Live, Haynesworth was discussing his future.  He said he doesn’t know what the Titans will do, but that he’s open to seeing what other teams show a strong interest in him.  Haynesworth then picked up a Colts helmet, posed with it, and stated that he could see himself in Indianapolis.

Peyton Manning was soon interviewed and stated that the Pro Bowl really is like a campaign.  Players from a given team will court a soon to be free agent–hanging out with them in Hawaii, going out to eat, etc–and then when free agency rolls around, that player has signed with that team.

Look no further than when Terrell Owens wanted out in San Francisco.  In the Pro Bowl that year, he was getting quite friendly with Ray Lewis and Donovan McNabb.  That off-season, he was traded to Baltimore (temporarily) before landing in Philadelphia.

Oddly enough, Houshmanzadeh has already expressed a potential interest in playing in Philly, as well.

One has to wonder, if this kind of politicking does indeed work, is it any wonder why the awful teams never seem to get better?  Surely, it’s not all about camaraderie–money is the number one motivating factor.  But, if there aren’t a lot of Detroit Lions players at the Pro Bowl to openly campaign to a popular soon-to-be free agent, one would have to assume that he would be less likely to sign there.  Bad teams need all the more representatives present to showcase the organization in a good light.  Afterall, it doesn’t take much convincing to sign with the New England Patriots or Pittsburgh Steelers.  If you’re the Kansas City Chiefs, however, one would probably want to hear from a few players on the team about why signing in Kansas City would be such a wise move.

Manning/Delhomme

Manning/Delhomme

And while it is ultimately about money, no player wants to be stuck in NFL Purgatory–also known as Oakland.

February 8, 2009 Posted by | Features & Opinions, NFL | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Best Play In Super Bowl History?

Since the Super Bowl ended, many pundits and fans alike have stated that James Harrison’s interception return for a touchdown was the greatest play ever in Super Bowl history.

James Harrison

James Harrison

But I just don’t see it.

It was an excellent play, to be sure, but best ever?  While I appreciate that the interception helped prevent a Cardinals touchdown–and more importantly Cardinals momentum–I don’t regard that play as the best ever.

For starters, it happened at the end of the second half.  This wasn’t with two minutes to go in the fourth quarter.  Second, while an interception return for a touchdown is incredible, I’ve seen Ed Reed this season have more spectacular interception returns than the Harrison scamper down the sideline.  In my eyes, that play was more of an indictment of Arizona’s inability to tackle a linebacker running out of gas.

I’d argue that Rams linebacker Mike Jones stopping Titans wide receiver Kevin Dyson on the very last play of regulation in Super Bowl XXXIV was much better.  The Titans needed a touchdown to tie the game and send it into overtime.  Mike Jones, a relative unknown, prevented Kevin Dyson from gaining the extra yard that he needed.  Despite Steve McNair’s efforts on that drive, the Titans came up one yard short.  Ironically, weeks before, the Titans had benefited from the Music City Miracle–a play that essentially came down to whether the lateral from Frank Wycheck to (oddly enough) Kevin Dyson was indeed a lateral or forward pass.  Was it a yard forward or behind?  Well, weeks later in the Super Bowl, it was clearly one yard short.

Kevin Dyson

Kevin Dyson

In my opinion, though, last year’s catch by David Tyree was the best in Super Bowl history.  In fact, NFL Films President Steve Sabol wrote an NFL.com article about it last season.

The Giants were all that stood in the way of the Patriots being immortalized for all time.  Down 14-10, it’s 3rd and 5 at the Giants 44 yard line.  There’s one minute and fifteen seconds left in the game.  Manning takes the snap and finds a way to elude the grasp of  Jarvis Green and Adalius Thomas.  Manning hails the ball down the middle of the field, and a wide receiver that nobody heard of battles with a Hall of Fame safety in Rodney Harrison.  Tyree pins the ball to his helmet while falling backwards.  He holds onto the football.  First down, Giants.

Just four plays later, Manning hits Burress in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown.  The rest is history.

For my money, that’s easily the best play in Super Bowl history.  It had drama and significant ramifications, but more importantly, it left you in awe.  After an entire year, I still cannot understand how 1) Eli Manning was not sacked, forcing an almost impossible fourth down attempt and 2) how David Tyree–who only caught four passes in the regular season and whom teammates stated was dropping passes all week in practice leading up the big game–could find a way to hold onto the football in such a tough, high stakes situation.

February 5, 2009 Posted by | Features & Opinions, NFL | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Worth Another Look…

As you all know by now, the StatDragon is a big Super Bowl commercial fan. Although I thought this year’s ads were weaker, on whole, than they have been in previous years, I have provided my favorites from Sunday that I believe to be worth another look:

1. THANK YOU SOBE, FOR TURNING RAY LEWIS INTO A LIZARD:

2. WATCH THE RHINO HERE. THIS IS HOW I USED TO STROM INTO FRAT PARTIES IN COLLEGE:

3. “GIVE DADDY A KISS:”

4.  ANYTHING WITH A BOB DYLAN SONG AND I TURN INTO A SENTIMENTAL MESS: 

 

… and for those of you who put down too many PBR’s before the 4th quarter,  here’s what it all came down to:

 

Peace in the Middle East. StatDragon.

February 4, 2009 Posted by | Fantasy Football, Features & Opinions, General, NFL | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Death of Sunday

It was Groundhog day and wouldn’t you know it, that Punxatony Phil got scared again. Cue the music “So put your little hand in mine…” (Side note: Groundhog day the movie had to be one of the easiest acting jobs of Bill Murray’s career. Now what if he continuosly woke up on Super Bowl Sunday, I would test out every party and eventually hit every prop bet! WOW! Anyways good movie.) 6 more weeks of winter kids and tack on the death of football Sunday. With the Steelers winning their 6th Super Bowl, we have completed another season of excitement and NFL action. Now you’re asking yourself, what can I do on Sunday’s from now on? Let me share some survival tactics to fill your lonesome days.

Bruce!!!

Bruce!!!

Before I cure your Sunday woes, let’s talk about the Super Bowl. First of all, you may have witnessed one of the funniest moments in the history of halftime shows. Bruce Springsteen’s power slide made me cry laughing so hard that I had to rewind it at least 12 times. I found it online and watched it again at work today. Classic stuff. Halftime was also when the game peaked and the action started to happen. Harrison’s 100 yard Int for a TD, 3D commercials and Bruce baby! Harrison later went on to beat someone, 3D commercials sucked and Bruce smashed into a cameraman.

The 4th quarter was solid…but in no way was this the greatest game ever. It did mark the first time I ever won in Super Bowl squares. I’d like to thank Mr Whisenhunt for his first quarter challenge and Mr Tomlin for kicking a field goal at the 1-inch line. That lead me into a chant of “Super Bowl, Super Bowl, Super Bowl.” And how was that last play not reviewed? Come on, even if the crew upstairs saw that the fumble occurred, build some suspense, let the audience look it over and decide. Instead, the game ended and Polamalu was left staring at the stars for…ever. Now that’s a strange cat.

To-do’s on Sundays:
Start studying College Basketball — There is no better time than now to think about your brackets in March and learn who you can count on disappointing you and busting your bracket. This may also lead to increased boredom and eating.
NBA action — The NBA should be alright to watch with some specially highlighted games on all day. Primetime NBA is good but it will not fill the void of an NFL Sunday. I would also like to thank myself for jinxing Andrew Bynum in my last post. 8-12 weeks, ouch!
Invest in the Fox Soccer Channel — well it is futbol and it is on Sundays. Give it a shot, or not.

Movies — This time of year they start playing the classics from “What about Bob” to all the Rocky movies in a row. Take a load off and enjoy. You never know when the Mighty Ducks trilogy will be on again, Gordon Bombay and the flying V.

Read a frigging book — Lazy ass. Or this blog! Message brought to you by sportsfly.com.

If those don’t meet your needs, have a coke and a smile!coke

I’m Feeling kind of Sunday
RaginRondo

February 3, 2009 Posted by | NFL | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Super Bowl Commercials Not Too Funny In Dead Serious Economic Times

It wasn’t all bad.

While I certainly couldn’t tell you what each ad was hawking, a few made me chuckle.  A couple made me laugh.

The commercial that featured a man getting thrown out of his office window while still sitting on his office chair was funny due to the surprise.  A couple of the ads featuring the Clydesdale horses were cute.  The commercial depicting snow globes hitting vending machines–and a old man’s crotch–was great and Alec Baldwin promoting Hulu was simply classic Alec Baldwin.

But, of course, many missed the mark.  The ad featuring talking, dead flowers arrived DOA.  And bad ads featuring people shouting about Hyundai’s and cheap GoDaddy ads (still don’t know what the site is about) trying to tease viewers with sex completely missed the mark.

And the Troy Polamalu ad?  Mean Joe Greene can’t be happy.

Super Bowl Commercial Featuring Polamalu

Super Bowl Commercial Featuring Polamalu

But more than that, with America in the midst of the biggest economic crisis in decades, with people losing their jobs and unable to pay for college, you would think the ad companies would specifically aim for more funny commercials.  They didn’t have to be gut busting, “fall out of your seat funny” advertisements–but funny nonetheless.  I spent more time giving a slight smirk to almost all of the ads rather than genuinely laughing.  I kept thinking that that it’s hard to believe that  millions of dollars are spent on such uninspiring, unfunny ads.

The ads that stick most with people after the Super Bowl is over are often the ones that made you laugh.  I guess that’s why I don’t really remember most of them.

February 3, 2009 Posted by | Features & Opinions, NFL | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mike Tomlin is Black–And It Didn’t Matter

Late last night, Mike Tomlin became just the second black head coach in NFL History to win a Super Bowl.  There was no coverage of it.  No press conference.  No discussion of it during media day or after the clock read 0:00.

Race Not an Issue

Race Not an Issue

Just two years ago, Tony Dungy became the first black head coach to win a Super Bowl.

In fact, Tomlin’s race didn’t seem to factor into any discussion at all by the media and fans alike.  If anything, Tomlin’s age was a bigger eye opener.  At just 36–and in his second year as head coach–Tomlin became the youngest coach to ever win a Super Bowl.

On NFL Network last night, Deion Sanders brought up the point that age seemed to trump race this year.  Tomlin seemed happy that his race wasn’t a significant story regarding the Super Bowl, stating, “I’ll continue to get older,  but I’ll always be black.”

In a post Barack Obama world, one would like to hope that this becomes a trend.  That a black man or woman–or any minority–can ascend to the pinnacle of their profession and the surrounding discussion  will pertain to the quality of his or her performance rather than the amount of melanin in his or her skin.

It is well known that Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney is a big Obama supporter.  He also helped usher into the league the now famous “Rooney Rule”–which states that a team with a head coaching vacancy must interview a minority for the position.  It’s certainly possible that Mike Tomlin’s race–along with his resume–helped open the head coaching door for him.  Hired just two seasons ago, it’s not abundantly clear that Tomlin was the correct choice.

In that respect, the Rooney rule worked to perfection.  It allowed a man who might otherwise get passed over for a promotion to get an extra look.  It opened the door for him–but it was Tomlin’s job to walk through it and secure the position.  And he did. And oddly enough, from that point on, race didn’t matter.

Not even after a Super Bowl victory on the first day of Black History Month.

Now that is the epitome of progress.

February 2, 2009 Posted by | Features & Opinions, NFL | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Know Your Super Stats!!!

Knowledge is King This Super Bowl Sunday.

Knowledge is King This Super Bowl Sunday.

Want to be your own StatDragon this Super Bowl Sunday? Take a look at these interesting trivia facts and impress your fellow Super-Bowl-watching friends during the big game!!!

Most Rushing Yards – Timmy Smith, Washington. 204 YRDS in Super Bowl XXII

Most Passing Yards – Kurt Warner, St. Louis. 414 YRDS in Super Bowl XXXIV

Most Recieving Yards– Jerry Rice, San Francisco. 215 YRDS in Super Bowl

Most Touchdowns– Steve Young, San Francisco. 6 TDs in Super Bowl XXIX

Most Completions– Tom Brady, New England. 32 COMPS in Super Bowl XXXVIII

Most Interceptions– Rod Martin, Oakland. 3 INTs in Super Bowl XV

Most Sacks- Reggie White, Green Bay. 3 Sacks in Super Bowl XXXI

Most Field Goals– Ray Wersching, San Francisco. 4 FGs in Super Bowl XVI

Most Super Bowl Victories– three teams own 5 trophies:  San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Dallas

Most Super Bowl Losses– three teams have been embarrassed 4 times: Buffalo, Denver and Minnesota

Average Cost of 3o Sec. Commercial– $ 3 Million

# of Super Bowls that went into OT– zero

Now that you’re an expert play for free at:

http://www.sportsfly.com/LaunchGame.aspx?type=1&id=4&cmpid=blog_zg 

to win great prizes.

January 30, 2009 Posted by | News, NFL | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NFL Halftime Show=NFL Punking Out

The NFL needs to grow up.

Janet Jackson in 2004

Janet Jackson in 2004

Or maybe young.

Ever since the infamous moment when Janet Jackson’s breast was exposed for public consumption in 2004, the NFL has become scared.  Terrified, really.

In fact, that 2004 Super Bowl didn’t just feature Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake.  Nelly, P.Diddy, and Kid Rock performed, too.

Previous years have seen acts such as No Doubt, Mary J. Blige, Boyz II Men, U2 and Queen Latifah.

But since 2004, the NFL has played it safe.  They’ve turned to classic performers who are now carrying AARP cards.  The last four Super Bowls have featured Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Prince, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.  Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime show will feature Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

It’s not that we shouldn’t recognize past artists who helped pave the way.  But there are dozens of great acts that deserve to be given the exposure of the world at halftime.  From Alicia Keys to Adele to Kanye West–there is a new generation of musical acts that fans would love to see.  And ones who haven’t already been in the business for four decades.

Even Jennifer Hudson, a young woman who has won an Oscar and has recently been nominated for four Grammy awards due to her debut release this past year, is only singing the National Anthem.  For two brief minutes.

The NFL needs to get its act together.  You can’t market the league, memorabilia, and its products (such as Madden NFL Football) to a demographic that is roughly 35 and under, and yet trumpet out artists who are pushing sixty.  It’s not that Prince or Bruce Springsteen aren’t legends–they are.  But it’s time to showcase new legends for a new generation of fans.

The Super Bowl is the most watched event of the year, and so there’s no doubt that someone is enjoying the choices of halftime performances.  But the league should not be so scarred by the Janet Jackson incident that they’re afraid to let a young woman back on the stage.  Or any woman, at that.

Memo to the NFL:  You don’t have to worry about an orgy breaking out on stage.  No one will spew vulgarity.  Learn from your 2004 mistake, find ways to correct it, and move on.  Don’t hide your product behind an artist whose hey day was during the Nixon administration.

January 30, 2009 Posted by | Features & Opinions, NFL | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Straight Cash’s Super Bowl DO’s and DON’Ts

All right, you got your gear, you got a place to watch, so now, here are some do’s and dont’s to prep you for the big game and party.

My ticket to the Big Game

My ticket to the Big Game

If you’re a visitor to the party:

1) Do bring something — anything, a Steinlager 12-pack, wings, dessert, something. Even if you’re broke, you can scarf up for a bottle of Thunderbird or Pabst; just show that you appreciate your host’s sacrifice.

2) Do Not get too drunk before the game starts (applies to host also) — You don’t want to be blacked out if Warner throws a winning Hail Mary or Polamalu seals it with a pick … it’s all about a smooth slip into inebriation. 6 to 8 brews by kickoff is optimal (this applies to a guy around 180 pounds, add one beer per 30 pound level up).

3) Do Not double dip — and that not only applies to the ranch dressing, but to your pal’s spliff stash or his hottie chick.

4) Do Not bring any suckas to the party — No annoying girlfriends or “marks” who have no concept of a first down. SIDE NOTE: Be very prepared to feel the wrath if you go to a Cardinals party and you’re the only one rocking the black and gold (or vice versa)

5) Do have fun — Cheer and yell with gusto! Boldin just scored, stuff that Terrible Towel in that Pitt guys face.

6) Do know when to shut yer trap — during the anthem, commercials (yes, commercials) and when they present the trophy (optional during the Boss’ halftime set).

7) Do prepare for the post-game properly — designate a driver (BEFORE the game) or stash a sleeping bag in your trunk, or stash the designated driver in a sleeping bag in your trunk.

Set channel & volume. Unload battery. Stash.

Instructions: Set channel & volume. Unload battery. Stash.

As a host, not much: You already provided enough eats, drinks, TV and pad. You’re the master of your domain, but just a few things:

1) Do Not channel surf — Once the game starts, put the remote away for the next 4 hours. Yes, it’s your remote control. And yes, it’s your house. But the Super Bowl is bigger than you brother, and you became Obama-esque when you signed up for this (you’re here to serve, protect and deliver).

2) Do provide proper and plenty of trash receptacles — easy clean up, less stink; because these jokers you’re inviting think that they’re tailgating indoors.

3) Do provide for the post-game — ice cold water, fresh coffee, taxi numbers, instant soups, and in some cases, extra sleeping bags (or at least sweep the pick-up truck bed).

Finally, if you’re like me and watching the game with newborn in tow while the Mrs. has a “self-day,” then no rules apply. Do what you want, you’re the king of the castle. Though you might wanna take it easy on the booze, because you don’t want to make any nacho mix-up with the con queso dip and the nearby diaper.

Any other “do’s” and “don’ts” that I forgot?

Enjoy another wonderful American Institution.

Straight Cash … Homey!

January 29, 2009 Posted by | General, NFL, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Real Steel

RAVENS STEELERS

I can't even jinx the Steelers on Sunday

With the Super Bowl right around the corner, there’s some rules to go by when your picking your winner. Many years I’ve cheered and bet on the underdog and I’ve lost more Super bowls than one can imagine. I rooted for Jim Kelly and the Bills every time in the early 90s. Talk about building your super bowl resume early in life. The only joy I had was a Steve Tasker caused fumble. I even remember 99’, learning the dirty bird and hoping for Hotlanta to burst. I’m still waiting for Jamal Anderson to show up…loss. I had a decent run with the Pats and predicting their victories but that’s no surprise. My lowest point was 2006, the Bears vs Colts. I was throwing out Empire Records quotes about Rex Manning day throughout pregame. I somehow chose to side with “Sexy Rexy” and found myself drinking heavily. The underdog card will not work this time around either. Here’s some simple rules to live by from yours truly.

Rule 1: Leave emotions out of it. If you’re simply betting against a team like the 90s Cowboys or the Peyton 06’ Colts just because you hate their mere existence then you’re bound for the floor.

Rule 2: When you’re siding with God and Kurt Warner, then you’ve let religion take over, DON’T. Warner has had a great year and playoffs but he’s going to be put on his back more often than Hayden Panettiere.

Rule 3: If you could place a second half bet on the team who didn’t receive the ball, hopefully in this case the Steelers, you should probably do it.

Rule 4: First team to score usually loses the game. I’m serious, I don’t care if Devin Hester returns the kickoff for a touchdown, there’s no way they’re winning this game. Damn YOU REX!

Rule 5: If you are a fan of one of the teams in the Superbowl then please just sit back, gorge on some food and beer and enjoy the game without any monetary involvement in it. Trust me on this one. You don’t want to end up getting so emotional over your teams loss that you actually forget about the bet you put in on them until the next time you check your account, or get a phone call from your bookie reminding you again of what happened that day causing you to send threatening letters to the referees of that game for missing the two blatant holding calls on that Tyree catch…..see what I mean.

My prediction, the Steelers are going to roll on Sunday. Even if the Cardinals run the Annexation of Puerto Rico 12 times against the Steelers, they would still lose by 10. So get your popcorn ready and pull out your terrible towels folks, let’s get ready for some football!

Let’s hope Bruce has no wardrobe malfunctions

RaginRondo

January 29, 2009 Posted by | NFL | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment