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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

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

Most Shocking Super Bowl Story Ever?

If the Cardinals find a way to seek out a victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers this weekend, one has to wonder if this would be one of the most improbable Superbowl victories ever.

Most Shocking Sports Moment?

Most Shocking Sports Moment?

It would be hard to make the case for the biggest Superbowl upset.  After all, while the Cardinals have come out of nowhere, they certainly aren’t devoid of talent.  Boldin, Fitzgerald, Warner, Dansby, Dockett, Rolle, and Wilson are significant pieces to the success of the team.

And, of course, the Jets Superbowl win over Baltimore in 1969 ranks as the biggest Superbowl upset.  The Jets were double digit underdogs.  And ranking a close second is arguably the Patriots victory over Kurt Warner’s Rams in 2001.  While the Patriots were a Cinderella team, and an inspiration to a nation that was still in mourning due to terrorist attacks on September 11th, the Patriots were a rag tag team.  A collection of very good, sound football players, but no stand out athlete or star.  And that includes a young Tom Brady.

But the Cardinals are different.  This is a team that won only nine games this season.  This is a team that played in a division where two of its rivals fired their head coaches (49ers and Rams) mid-season, and the Seattle Seahawks were ravaged by injury.  And still, the Cardinals only won nine games.  Let’s be honest–how many thought the Cardinals were for real when it was announced they won their division late in the season?  How many thought they would make noise in the playoffs?

This is a Cardinals team that couldn’t run the ball most of the season and who lost 4 of their last 6 games to close out the regular season.

And yet, here the Cardinals stand.  A game away from winning their very first Superbowl titles in franchise history.

The idea that the Cardinals, a team that has arguably been the worst franchise in sports history, just might knock off one of the best franchises in all of sports (Pittsburgh), is nothing short of amazing.

What Do YOU Think?

January 29, 2009 Posted by | Features & Opinions, NFL | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Metal Sunday

Hetfield showing some Metal!

Hetfield showing some Metal!

To put an interesting spin on music and sports, I’m going to pick the top 3 Metallica songs of last nights show and relate them to football Sunday. You’re probably asking, how’s he going to do this and why? In fact, I’m hungover and I’m winging it. Are you with me?!?! Well who needs you. Anyways, we attended the Metallica show at the Garden in Boston last night. I was flashing my metal sign all night until I Romo’d my pinkie on a sloppy hand pound. Val asked people if they knew for whom the bell tolled, Shannon raved about metal hair and conditioner and Casey just demanded one more song…as she broke into SAN-I-TARIUM. We got hammered while we seeked and destroyed the luxury box. Metallica still kicks ass and busted out a super long set.

You could say they resembled a healthy Kurt “The Cardinal” Warner in these playoffs. The resurgence of the decade with this guy and the hand of God he possesses. Not to mention the emergence of Larry Fitzgerald as the NFL’s top receiver in these playoffs and probably the league.
Pittsburgh’s defense held it’s own against a rookie flaccid Flacco who ended his playoff run with a 40-yard Polamalu pick-six. Big Ben stood strong and maneuvered well making big plays on the run. With the Super Bowl in 2 weeks, they have a chance to win their second Lombardi this decade.

Kurt Warner

Kurt Warner

Onto the music:

Sad But True — Let’s dedicate this one to Donovan Mcnabb. He gets so close, but again so far away. Mcnabb played a great third quarter but struggled the rest of the game. Will he ever get over the hump? Another playoff run where he can’t get it done, you know it’s sad but true.

Nothing Else Matters — I mean the song has Super Bowl team written all over it. “Trust I seek and I find in you/Every day for us something new/ Open mind for a different view/and nothing else matters.” Like a QB to his offensive line, Linebacker to his defense…just win! That was my emotional attempt.

One — Arizona vs Pittsburgh, Warner vs Ben, one more game, one more win. One day of stuffing your face and drinking while you place prop bets and pray for squares. Who will live the dream “I can’t remember anything/Can’t tell if this is true or dream.” Who’s going to Disneyland, riding the tower of terror and throwing up on Donald Duck. There can only be one!

Throw up some metal!
RaginRondo

January 19, 2009 Posted by | NFL, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NFL Predictions, Part 1

1.  If Baltimore beats the Titans, I think they’re a lock for the Superbowl.

Ed Reed

Ed Reed

I don’t want to make too much of this–afterall, as great as Flacco has played this season, he is still a rookie and prone to “rookie mistakes”–but the Ravens are the scariest team in the NFL.  We could be witnessing a team that channels the 2007 Giants–a squad that gets hot at the right time and rides a strong defensive wave (coupled with a good showing by their young quarterback) all the way to the Superbowl.

It’s not as if the Ravens haven’t been to the Superbowl before on the back on their defense.  But this year, their offense is actually showing up.  And that’s very scary.

2.  The Steelers will Dominate the San Diego Chargers on Sunday

I don’t forsee this being a game similar in vein to when these two teams met earlier in the year.  I think Sproles will inject some speed and creativity into the offense, getting lots of YAC on screen passes in particular.  But I expect that Pittsburgh defense to be in full force.  I think they will shut down the running attack and blitz Rivers until he throws up the white flag of surrender.  As good as Phiilip Rivers has been this season, I expect to see Polamalu to get a turnover and return it for a touchdown.

3.  Tony Dungy Will Retire

By early next week, we should hear whether Dungy will retire or come back to the Colts in 2009.  I think he’s completely done.  Dungy has stated before that football isn’t his only passion, and one would think that such a serene man would like to spend more time with his family.  With Jim Caldwell already lined up to replace him, Dungy will step aside and finally let someone else run the show in Indianapolis.  Soon after the season ends, Favre will follow Dungy into the sunset, as well.

January 8, 2009 Posted by | NFL | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

20 NFL Questions

Braylon Edwards of the Browns

Braylon Edwards of the Browns

1. Why does Braylon Edwards blame the fans of Cleveland for his icy reception instead of blaming his own two hands?

2. Speaking of Cleveland, how in the world can the Dolphins go from 1-15 in 2007 to potential division winners in 2008, but the Browns haven’t come close to that in the ten years since their return to the league?

3. Do you think the winless Buccaneers of 1976 really want the Lions to win a game?

4. Why can’t T.O. simply utter these two words when posed a question?: No comment

T.O.

T.O.

5. After seeing the success of the Patriots during this decade, why does Jerry Jones continue to invest in trouble making divas?

6.  Is it possible that GM Carl Peterson actually fell on the sword to save his buddy Herm’s job?

7. Is  anyone else as tired as I am of these Miller Lite “More Taste League” ads?

8. And can I just watch a football game without being bombarded about commercials discussing erectile dysfunction, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer?

9. Don’t you hope that this disappointing season won’t be an aid in moving the Bills out of Buffalo?

10. Can we please do away with the Pro Bowl and just have skill competitions?

11. Speaking of the Pro Bowl, did Brett Favre really deserve to be voted in?

12. Aren’t you surprised that you haven’t seen Peyton Manning in more ads this year?

13. When Al Davis inevitably fires his interim head coach, who in the world will want to coach this team?

14. Is wide receiver Jerry Porter the worst free agent signing of the off-season?

15. Isn’t Michael Turner the best free agent signing of the off-season?

16. Do you think the San Diego Chargers regret letting Turner walk away? 17. If he had a decent quarterback, wouldn’t Adrian Peterson be well over 2,000 rushing yards by now?

18. Isn’t it hard to believe that recently convicted O.J Simpson was one of the best backs the NFL has ever seen?

19. Aren’t you tired of ESPN’s John Clayton reporting a story one day, and contradicting himself the next?

20.  How is it that no matter who coaches the team (who plays for the them), the Steelers always win?

December 19, 2008 Posted by | Features & Opinions, NFL, Talkin Trash | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments