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Tag:football
Posted on: February 13, 2010 9:24 am
 

2/13/10; What Now? (Post Super Bowl Rut)

We are now one week removed from Super Bowl XLIV. What now?

Twenty-five years ago at this time, I would be in a rut. I might be watching some NCAA College Basketball, I was REALLY into Duke back then. The NBA could hold my interest for half a game or so. If it was an Olympic year, like this year, I would catch some of that as well. I rarely watched hockey, heck, it was rarely on TV anyway. I would not be all that interested in The Daytona 500, although I would watch a few laps and try to catch the end of the race next week. Perhaps a little PGA golf would make its way onto my set. And even though the Pittsburgh Pirates were going through a downslide, I would be paying attention through my local sports page (The Altoona Mirror). There were periods when some of my friends would rent a court and we would play a little hoops, but as far as spectating, I guess my main interest at that time would have been catching AAHS boys and girls basketball games as they neared post-season play.
Post Super Bowl RUT? YES

Twenty years ago was even worse. College and NBA basketball held about the same place in my heart. There was more hockey on the tube and Mario Lemieux finally was getting some help. The winter of 1990 was a prelude to the back to back Stanley Cups the Pens would win the next two seasons and this was the first time I really paid any attention to the NHL's regular season. It would be another five years before I developed any interest in NASCAR beyond the 'catching a few laps' mode. And even though the Pirates were playoff favorites during this time, I paid little attention to the off season. Even local high school sports held little interest for me during this period.
Post Super Bowl RUT? YES

Ten years ago, I began to find sporting events that grabbed me during the winter lull. I had finally started getting into NASCAR racing and looked forward to Daytona nearly as much as the Super Bowl. I finally had the internet, so this time of the year was full of paying attention to everything that was going on in MLB leading up to Spring Training. I watched every Duke basketball game that was on the air, which led me into watching more games of many varied teams. The NHL was in its own lull for me personally, Mario nearing the end and Sydney Crosby not even on my radar yet. But, I would begin to chart the NFL draft within a week of the Super Bowl. I watched quite a bit of golf and had somehow morphed into this guy who loved watching the Winter Olympics. My kids were getting to that age, and I was spending time watching and coaching my son play basketball in addition to taking him to local games. Truly, my children filled the void for the most part.
Post Super Bowl RUT? Yeah, I guess I still had it

Now I find myself in 2010. I have absolutely no interest in the NBA at all. College basketball does not hold my interest for long either. As I age, I find the lack of discipline and teamwork to be a shameful development in the sport. I still enjoy watching high school basketball when there is no "I" in "TEAM". I am paying some attention to everything leading up to Daytona, but it does not hold a place in my life or heart that it once did. Golf has become boring if they are not playing in a Major Tournament, so this time of the year is bland. I am no longer that guy who charts the NFL draft constantly, I'll wait until a week or so before the draft.

So WHAT DOES hold a former sports junkie's attention as I face middle age?

I am VERY into The Winter Olympics. For some reason I find the winter portion of 'The Games' to be more interesting than the The Summer Games. I love watching hockey now, and not just the Pens. As I age I find this game to be refreshing, I guess it's the fact that even though there are 'superstars', no team is successful without involving the WHOLE TEAM. I am watching what is going on in baseball, every team. And yes, I am the eternal optimist, hoping and praying that this is the year the Pirates break through and win at least 82 games. And lest we forget recruiting for NCAA football!

The thing is ...... I am soon turning 46 years old. I am remarried with six children between us. I have my work, and dreams of starting my own business. I find myself starting to plan where I would like to live when all the kids are self sufficient (Myrtle Beach, here I come). My priorities have changed. I still love sports, but there is just so much more to life. It took me all of this time and one failed marriage to learn this. If it sounds pitiful or stupid that it took me so many years to get to this point, please do not judge me. I have friends, and know of many others, who are so locked into sports that it takes precedence over everything else. I look outside of my home here in Central PA and see a driveway that badly needs attention after three feet of snow has fallen while I have been at work all week. There is college and high school issues concerning the kids to deal with. And I still need find time to make sure that my wife knows that she is the most important person in my world.

2/13/2010, Post Super Bowl RUT? I love the NFL & The Super Bowl, but I know that there will be another year (God willing), and football will return. I don't even miss it. So ......

In a rut? Well, yea. Snow, snow, snow and work, work work will do that to a man. But not because of sports. Please take my advice, if you ever find yourself in a rut because your favorite sports season has just ended, open your eyes and look around. The worst 'RUT' one can ever find themselves in is the type that isolates your world .... and as great as sports are, there is so much more out there.


Posted on: January 22, 2010 5:50 pm
 

AFC/NFC Championship Games: Picks & Analysis

I'm going to get back to the subject of 'Sports Talk Radio' soon, but in the mean time, here are my picks with analysis for the upcoming conference championship games ....

New York Jets @ Indianapolis Colts
This is one those games that makes me glad to be alive. Peyton Manning , one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) quarterbacks of all time, in a position to take his legacy to the next level should he become a multiple-time Super Bowl champ versus one of the real 'feel good' stories in recent memory in the Jets. The classy Colts, still exemplifying all that was instilled in this organization during Tony Dungy's tenure versus the brass young Jets with Buddy's boy Rex leading the way with his chin out .... 'go ahead, take your best shot!' The veteran presence in Indy versus the rookie quarterback who seems to be learning to stay within himself and the rookie running back  who brings fresh legs and determination to the attack after defenses get worn out defending Thomas Jones . This should be an enjoyable watch.
The Jets need to play THEIR game to perfection to have a chance in this one. All due respect, I LOVE what they have done this season! Rex Ryan is a breath of fresh air, considering most coaches are either hardcore or dance around the issues. Mark Sanchez is being used perfectly, safe passes, don't lose the game, take care of the ball .... just like the Ravens used Trent Dilfer during their Super Bowl run. The one-two punch of Jones and Shonn Greene has proven very effective. And that defense ..... if they improve next year as much as they did this year, they will become the next great defense in the NFL and could lead this team on a many year run of playoff appearances and perhaps a championship or two. And they COULD just win this game .......
But ..... Peyton Manning is a true master. He was leading the Colts to yet another victory in week 16 before he was pulled out of the game. Truthfully, with the likes of Reggie Wayne , Dallas Clark , Joseph Addai and the young players Peyton uses to their maximum capabilities, I believe Indy will put up many points despite NY's efforts. And the Colts defense is being overlooked and are coming into this game with a chip on their shoulders.
I see the Colts going up early with New York hanging about two scores behind to the mid third quarter point. At that point I see Indy pulling away and putting this one out of reach with about 5 minutes left in the game. Honestly, I love the idea of Peyton v. Brett in the Super Bowl, but I REALLY do like this Jets team, so I have no bias here. Final score .....
Colts 30 Jets 16

Minnesota Vikings @ New Orleans Saints
I am in the minority as for my pregame analysis of this game. While it's no 'slamdunk', I don't see this one being close. Unless the Vike's defense fails to show up, they will be the big difference here.
New Orleans has a great team, but after watching them pull rabbits out of hats all season long, I don't have a lot of faith in their chances of winning it all. 'Any given Sunday' is a cliche because it's true, so Drew Brees could play out of his mind, Reggie Bush could match last week with a return touchdown and take a swing pass or sweep to the house and the receiving corps of Colsten, Meachem & Henderson could all catch long bombs, but the defense is really not that good, so to win they better find at least 6 touchdowns somewhere. True, the defense has made some spectacular plays at times, but have shown absolutely no consistency.
The Vikings seem to be the loosest team left in this tourney. I see Brett Favre hitting a lot of safe-type passes early to lull the Saints d to sleep, then hit a couple of long one's. I also see Adrian Peterson taking advantage of this strategy to score at least two long touchdowns. The defense played lights out last week against a supposedly 'hot' Cowboys team, and I don't see that changing. Led by mulletman, Jared Allen , this group flies around and makes ALL the plays. They may have a couple of breakdowns in the secondary, but it won't be enough for the Saints to win.
The Saints will break off something big the first time they get the ball and will score, Minnesota will methodically drive the ball down the field with short passes and AP runs to score on their first drive as well. After that, the Vike's defense steps up and Brett starts putting it down the field. This could be a foregone conclusion early in the second half. Final score .......
Vikings 48 Saints 27

Posted on: January 9, 2010 1:26 pm
 

WEEK 18: Here we go (picks & more)


Every NFL fan, and I mean the TRUE FAN (those of us who can get past whether or not our favorite team made the playoffs), looks forward to Week 18 from the moment the preseason camps begin to open. Some of us get labeled as 'bandwagon' fans because our allegiances seem to change from game to game in the playoffs (again, if our fav is not there), but I disagree with that label. I believe that those fans who are like me just LOVE NFL football and we appreciate great matchups and great games in the playoffs. Let's face it, there are separate rivalries in playoff season that go beyond the regular season, such as the Colts and Patriots , and, from the past, the Steelers and Cowboys . So, in each matchup I find reasons to pull a little more for one team than the other. Perhaps I appreciate one head coach more than the other, admiring the way they hold their team up in a classy way such as Tony Dungy always did. Or perhaps there is a player who is the most intriguing story of the playoffs such as Brett Favre and the possibility that if things fall just right he could be facing the Packers in the NFC Championship game. Regardless, I LOVE THE PLAYOFFS!!!

What follows are my picks for Wild Card Weekend, why, and which team I am pulling for:

Philadelphia @ Dallas
For some, this game is a no brainer and the Cowboys are the choice. There is no question that they have played their best all-around football over the past few weeks. The defense has stepped up big time, throwing two shutouts, Marion Barber seems to have found himself again and Tony Romo has matured into the best version of himself in his career. I believe this has more to do with coaching than anything else. The 'Boys are using Felix Jones and Tashard Choice , along with Barber, in a rotation that is most effective. Barber has not played in this situation since Julius Jones was let go. Barber was the most feared goal line back in the league in those days, and his recent performance shows he is once again benefitting from not being an every down back. As for Romo, he still has that 'goofy little kid' look going on, but I believe that something has clicked inside of his head and perhaps his heart. He looks fearless in the pocket and trusting of his receivers. He finally has a target worthy of taking pressure off of Jason Witten in Miles Austin , and other receivers are actually catching the ball too.
Conversely, the Eagles were the hot team and many people's pick to rise up and make a big run in the playoffs. Then Week 17 happened and everyone jumped off of their wagon. Donovan McNabb can still get the job done, but his line must protect him AND his receivers MUST CATCH THE BALL. Brian Westbrook looked like he was in the second week of the preseason against Dallas and provided little spark. And the defense just isn't the same without Coach Johnson dialing up the blitzes. I am a big Andy Reid fan, and if anyone can turn this around in a week, well he is certainly one who could. But ......
I don't see it. I grew up a Cowboy fan until Mr Jones bought the team (just don't like that guy) and I would tend to lean towards rooting for the Eagles. That being said, momentum is huge, and although the Eagles could grab it away with some stellar early play, I think it's all on Dallas' side.
Cowboys 27 Eagles 24

Green Bay @ Arizona
Here is the 'bandwagon' I am jumping on this week. I love what the Packers have done over the course of the second half of the season. Aaron Rodgers has proven in my eyes that he is a big time quarterback and that maybe the Pack wasn't so dumb letting the 'every year Favre off-season circus' move on. Rodgers has a bevy of receivers to go to in any given situation. In addition, the running game is clicking with Ryan Grant leading the way. The addition of Ahman Green has only helped. Defensively, despite the blip in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago (I was at that game), Green Bay has improved throughout the season. The young linebackers are on the verge of becoming one of the best crews in the NFC, the line works hard and the secondary led by Charles Woodson have made the 'big play' an every game occurrence.
I enjoy watching many of the athletes on the Cardinals roster perform, respect and admire the entire Kurt Warner story and all that he has achieved, and I like Ken Whisenhunt. However, I thought the Cards played over their heads last year (Larry Fitzgerald going all-universe) in the playoffs, and they truly benefit from playing in the weakest division in the NFL. Anytime you can combine Fitz with his receiver mates, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston , and have Warner throwing the pigskin around you have a chance to win. And as much as I believe Beanie Wells is a future star, he just cannot hold onto the ball.
In the end, I believe Green Bay is primed for a deep run. Unfortunately for the defending conference champs, they are in the way.
Packers 34 Cardinals 20

NY Jets @ Cincinnati
Rex Ryan made a lot of grandiose statements at the beginning of the season that only increased, both in volume and pompacity, after a very good start by the Jets. Somehow, despite a rollercoaster ride of team performances, the New Yorkers find themselves in the postseason. I love Ryan. I truly believe he is a future Super Bowl Champion coach. Mark Sanchez looks like he will develop into at least a good Qb, if not a very good one. Once Thomas Jones runs out of 'career gas', Shonn Greene will develop into a superstar. And Darrelle Revis already IS a superstar. All of this bodes well for the future, and making the playoffs this season will only accelerate future success. But that's the future, this is now.
The Bengals , on the other hand, are out of gas ..... NOW. Their defense has looked weaker and weaker as the season has progressed. Carson Palmer has proven that he is fully recovered from the knee injury that he suffered a few years ago, and is nice quarterback. But the receivers are old, Ocho is hurting, the running game is (can I repeat myself?) out of gas. Unless Larry Johnson comes off the bench and out of obscurity with a performance of a lifetime, I think the Cats are in trouble.
This might be the least entertaining game of this playoff season.
Jets 17 Bengals 10

Baltimore @ New England
Who doubts 'The Hoodie'? Bill Belichick, like him or not, is a proven winner. Tom Brady already has his bust being molded for when he reaches Canton. And Randy Moss ? Shoot, when Randy decides to play he is one of the best receivers in the history of the game. But this team is a shell of what we are used to seeing out of the Patriots. Moss WILL show up, and probably have a nice game. Although at times Brady played great this season, I don't think he is all the way back from the knee. He'll also play well in this game. But the running game is lacking, the defense is not good and Wes Welker is out. Yikes!!
The Ravens enter this game with a chip on their shoulders after what they feel was a referee influenced loss during the regular season. I still don't see what all the hype is about surrounding Joe Flacco . Sure, he's better than anyone expected coming out of college, but no one expected ANYTHING, so how is that a big deal? He's good, might become real good, but he's not leading ANY team into the Super Bowl this season. Despite aging, the defense is still the story in Baltimore. Ray Lewis is jacked up. Is that a surprise? Ray gets jacked up as soon as he opens his eyes every morning. And he will play his best football of the season during the post season, no matter how long it lasts. The big key to this game is can Ray Rice and Willis McGahee combine to dominate time of possession and get the ball into the endzone without putting it on the ground too often. The smart money says yes.
Now, I for one would not be surprised if 'Hoodie' has kept something up his sleeve. We all know that no one leaks in New England, the Secret Service could take lessons on security from the Chowds. This may or may not be the case, but what if Fred Taylor has been MUCH healthier for WEEKS than the Pats have let on? Maybe Fragile Fred has just been staying healthy, comes out and puts up 200 yards and 3 Tds? If so, Hoodie's legend multiplies by 1,000 and the Patriots win. If not .......
Ravens 23 Patriots 21


Enjoy the games friends and fellow fans!!!

Posted on: December 25, 2009 10:00 am
 

Vick, SMU and Volleyball

Pondering the most recent items that I consider BIG DEALS .......


Michael Vick wins 'courage' award? I started shaking my head before I read ANY of the info on this one. From what I understand, Vick has not even been a good clubhouse guy, and beside the game against Atlanta, he hasn't played all that great. I could go on about how 'real courage' is taking care of your ailing 87-year old mother fulltime while dealing with the recent news that one of your children has MS, like my friend Karen. But really, how many NFL players deal with something like that? Realistically, Donovan McNabb is a much more deserving recipient, coming back over and over from injury and then dealing with his coach sending in some dummy on half the third-down plays to run 'The Wildcat'.

SMU: From childhood through my mid-twenties I was definitely such a Penn State 'HOMER' that I did not root for any other college teams (except USC, loved that big white horse). As a 45-year old adult, I am so blessed to be able to remember some of the great college players and great moments that I have witnessed. Johnny Rodgers of Nebraska and Greg Pruitt of Oklahoma making such moves that everyone else seemed to be playing in mud, Joe Montana leading Notre Dame to a come from behind victory in The Cotton Bowl, Flutie's Hail-Mary pass Vs Miami and Dan Marino carving up defenses for Pitt just to name a very few. One of the best memories was watching SMU's Pony Express of Craig James and Eric Dickerson run all over the place. Soon thereafter, SMU suffered the NCAA's first 'Death Penalty'. That being said, it was heartening to see what SMU did to Nevada in The Hawai'i Bowl, completing a sporting resurrection. Congrats to June Jones and all SMU fans! If Jones sticks around, the Mustang program should keep improving. I was a little busy preparing for Christmas morning during the telecast, but I did at one point hear the announcers say something about the good recruiting class that would be arriving before next season. Continued good luck to SMU and their fans!

Did anyone not affiliated (or a fan of) Penn State or Texas witness the Women's NCAA Volleyball championship match? I have to admit that I am not a frequent spectator of volleyball, except for my daughters' games, but I do watch the Lady Lions when they go far in the tournament, which has been quite frequently these past years. I watched the last two years as they dismantled the opposition in what looked like romps, and then again in the semis this year. However, this year's championship tilt was a match for the ages. Texas jumped out to a 2-0 set lead behind the awesome play of Destinee Hooker. This girl came from everywhere and was dominating the match. Penn State was definitely off their game, but dug down deep behind superstar Megan Hodge who, despite playing one of her worst matches in this, her last game as a collegiate , reached a level of leadership that few of her age could define, let alone demonstrate. Fellow Senior, Alisha Glass, came up with some nice play and Freshman , Darcy Dorton, stepped up big as the Penn State ladies made a historic comeback to secure their third straight National Championship and keep their streak of 102 straight victories intact. WAY TO GO GIRLS!!!! You've made us so proud!


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com