Random Observations from the sports day that made my eyes hurt, and offered us the old-school matchup of Colts-Bears in Super Bowl XLI.
• Peyton Manning shocked the heck out of me. Yes, I am a critic. Yes, I don’t think he plays well when the pressure is hot. And yes, I thought they were screwed down 21-3. But, he was pretty solid down the stretch, and when they needed 3 to tie and 7 to win – he figured out a way to get the 7. I must tell you that I am very impressed with his game performance that finally got the Brady monkey of his back. I am also being scolded about being someone who said he could “never win the big one” and what do I think about that? Well, since I was asked, I believe if he loses at the Super Bowl, Chances are pretty good that people will stay say he can’t “win the big one”. Sorry, but the big games are the last ones. Nice win, but not THE win....Yet.
• Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith are the first two black head coaches into the Super Bowl, to which Shannon Sharpe said “Well Done”. I am pretty sure White Guys can’t say that sort of thing. Race cheering is generally frowned upon from Whitey. Seriously, though, prepare to read about that for 2 weeks. I think we have the default Super Bowl story since Katrina is now out of the mix.
• Does Reche Caldwell always have eyes like that? Wow. Those things are huge! I thought I was watching Chad Hutchinson for a second there. He didn’t look scared at all, right? Massive scared eyes. Nice hands, Reche.
• Was Eli secretly cheering that Peyton would not win so that he can continue to slide by with Peyton taking the criticism? His celebration was not real convincing in the luxury box. In fact, did someone have to explain what the Super Bowl was to the entire Manning family or had they seen it before on tv? I kid!
• Have you ever seen Marvin Harrison make less of an impact in a big game?
• Surely, we all thought Adam Vinatieri would have to win that game, but he basically stood by and watched. I guess he is saving it to win another Super Bowl. Guy seems to have a knack for that bit.
• Is there anything more fun than seeing the rare Bill Belichick loss? He seems ready to stab anyone who gets in his face. The guy may be the best coach of this generation, but he seems like a lousy human. It looked like Manning wanted to say something to him, but he was storming off and did not have time to talk to the victor. Hmm. Great Coach, Lousy Human…I seem to have heard of that before a few places.
• Meanwhile, 4 turnovers certainly did not help the cause for the New Orleans Saints. Despite everyone on the planet seemingly picking them, they never looked the part Sunday, and only were in the game for a brief moment early in the third Quarter. The Bears dominated the NFC Title game in such fashion that one longed for something else to flip to watch early in the 4th Quarter.
• Snow. Beautiful Snow. May Minnesota, Detroit, and anyone else dumb enough to play inside despite being located in a cold climate that is to your advantage never win a meaningful game while playing inside. Talk about stupidity. I wonder if Minnesota realizes they used to go to Super Bowls before they moved inside? That was beautiful Sunday. Snow for a NFC Title game! Genius.
• Mr Inside (Deuce) and Mr Outside (Bush) combined for exactly 27 yards on 10 carries. That is not going to cut it. Meanwhile Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson combined for 183 and 3 Touchdowns on the ground. Such a recipe has been used time and time again in the month of January on natural grass. Dominate on the “ground and pound”.
• Every time I watch the Bears, I wonder who Bernard Berrian is. So, just so we all know, he was a 3rd round pick in 2004 from Fresno State. Played 5 seasons of college ball as he got the medical redshirt. And he appears to be the textbook definition of the deep threat.
• I don’t know what to think of Rex Grossman. I mean, I guess he is close to a ring and all, but wow. 11-26-144 doesn’t make you think he had much to do with it. But, he did have the drive that won the game (after the safety) and he does seem to win a lot. I guess I don’t get what he does well, except throw the deep ball. And every QB in the NFL can throw the deep ball. So, in closing, I guess write me down as someone who thinks any one of 20 QB’s could have taken this team to the Super Bowl. There, I said it.
• Brian Urlacher is my leader. Please, football gods, let AJ Hawk be half as good someday.
• Sean Payton is a nice story. But he needs his head examined to believe in Billy Cundiff with two different NFL teams. You might as well ask me to kick that FG.
• If you want to know this week’s reason that the Houston Texans are idiots, just show them that little pass to Reggie Bush. What morons.
• Marques Colsten appeared to be a rookie today.
• Wow, either Peyton gets a ring, or the Bears close the gap on Green Bay for most titles all time (right now it is 12 to 9, Packers). Hmm. I have dueling agendas. But, someone has to win. If Rex Grossman beats Manning, Peyton will never hear the end of it.
• Lovie Smith may need a raise. He is the lowest paid coach in football. That is generally reserved for the Dave Campos of the world.
Colts -7 over Bears …according to Vegas, baby…
After rallying for a spectacular win and the AFC Championship Game, Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts are big favorites to win the Super Bowl over the Chicago Bears.
Manning's Colts are as much 7-point favorites with most Las Vegas bookmakers after a 38-34 win over the New England Patriots on Sunday.
The Bears' dominant 39-14 victory over the New Orleans Saints for the NFC title did nothing to ease concerns about the shaky arm of Bears quarterback Rex Grossman, who completed 11 of 26 pass attempts for 144 yards and a touchdown.
"If I was a Bears fan I would worry a little bit if Grossman had to come from behind," said Jay Kornegay, the race and sports book director of the Las Vegas Hilton. "But he was fortunate that his defense caused a lot of turnovers so that he wasn't put in that position."
Chuck Esposito, assistant vice president of Harrah's Entertainment Inc.'s Caesars Palace sports book, made the Colts 6.5-point favorites, giving a nod to the Bears' defense, which had four takeaways from the Saints.
The over/under line for the Super Bowl, in Miami on Feb. 4, was set at 49 or 49.5 points, meaning bookmakers expect a high-scoring game and the public to root for lots of points.
Manning and the Colts finally got it done …
This was Peyton Manning's moment. This was his chance to create a memory, alter a legacy, do the kind of thing he's never been able to do during previous playoff performances. This was Manning's chance to be John Elway, mucking 98 yards through the mud in Cleveland, or Joe Montana, fading to his right, then waiting and waiting and finally finding Dwight Clark in the back corner of the end zone. This was the moment Manning had been waiting all his life to seize.
There was 2:17 left Sunday at the RCA Dome, the New England Patriots hanging on by 34-31, the AFC title and a berth in Super Bowl XLI in the balance. A game that had not only lived up to the hype, but exceeded it in every imaginable way, had come down to this.
A season on the line.
A legacy on the line.
Everything, on the line.
Then Manning hit Reggie Wayne near the sideline. Then he backpedaled, the Patriots rush coming hard and fast, and, off his back foot, found Bryan Fletcher speeding unimpeded downfield for a 32-yard gain. Then he hit Wayne again, and took a shot to the head for his troubles, adding a personal foul penalty to the play.
Then, it was Joseph Addai, Joseph Addai, Joseph Addai, with no Willie McGinest around this time to slow him down.
Colts 38, Patriots 34.
Let this one sink in: The Indianapolis Colts, producers of the greatest comeback ever in a conference championship game, are going to the Super Bowl.
Let me say that again:
The Indianapolis Colts are going to the Super Bowl.
Reggie Bush feels bad about somersault …I think that is the first somersault on record on my blog.
Reggie Bush said he didn't intend to taunt Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher with his somersault into the end zone Sunday at the end of an 88-yard touchdown play. But he knew immediately he had to deal with it. He approached coach Sean Payton to talk.
"I got caught up in the emotion of the game," said Bush, who said he didn't know who was chasing him. "I was excited. I told coach Payton I apologize for it. I was wrong. I allowed my emotions to take over."
Said Payton: "It was a great play, but the first thing he said to me was, 'I shouldn't have done that.'"
Bush led the Saints with seven receptions for 132 yards.
Urlacher professed not to care much about the incident.
"We're going to the Super Bowl," he said.
Not all of Urlacher's teammates were as understanding.
Defensive lineman Adewale Ogunleye said Bush had "no class."
"I told Reggie that was unprofessional of him to do that." Ogunleye said. "I think he's going to be a hell of a player in this league. But for him to point back and taunt, that was no class. … I swear, I was a second away from punching him."
Mavs win in Miami with grit and gut in the 4th …And No Shaq/No Riley…
The rematch, if it truly can be called one, lacked the panache of the original.
How could it not?
The Mavericks and Heat aren't the same teams they were in last year's NBA Finals, for many different reasons, so Sunday afternoon had no chance of living up to the hype.
That doesn't mean there weren't some elements of drama that were last seen seven months ago. Dwyane Wade had his moments, Dirk Nowitzki his, and the score was tied with less than four minutes to go.
The Mavs made the plays at both ends this time and dispatched Miami without Shaquille O'Neal with more effort than some might have expected. Still, the 99-93 victory at AmericanAirlines Arena holds significance in this season, not last.
If anything, though, the Mavs finally won in Miami.
"You know, that's right," said Jerry Stackhouse, one of the Mavs' fourth-quarter standouts. "We hadn't won here in [three] games."
It's about the only place they haven't won since June. The Mavs (34-8) continued their barnstorming ways, running their winning streak to seven. They've won 20 of 21 and 30 of 34, and continue to own the NBA's top record.
"They're a good team, one of the best in the league," Wade said. "They came on the road and got a good win."
The three-game South Florida sweep made for compelling story lines coming into the first meeting this season between last year's finalists, but the Mavs were aware of what (little) the game actually meant.
"It was a lose-lose situation," Nowitzki explained. "If we lose, it's because we can't win in this building. If we win, it's because Shaq is out. We couldn't win."
All Stars descend on Dallas …
Six of the 12 starters picked by fans are first-time All-Stars, as are 20 of the 42 overall choices. The leading vote-getter was Sidney Crosby, who was 16 and was still in junior-level hockey when the NHL held its last All-Star Game in January 2004.
Still only 19, Crosby is the youngest player ever voted in by fans. He's also the youngest player ever to lead the league in scoring, another indication this should be the first of many, many All-Star appearances for the Pittsburgh Penguins star.
"I'm excited, for sure," he said Friday. "A lot of guys there I grew up watching. To get the opportunity to meet and play with them is going to be enjoyable."
Actually, the most enjoyable part might be watching Crosby play on a line with Washington's Alex Ovechkin, who is so good that he beat out Crosby as the league's top rookie last season.
Crosby and Ovechkin already are being touted as the 21st-century version of Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. Those guys, however, weren't All-Star linemates until the tail end of their careers. So this pairing of young stars could be the boost needed for a league still trying to reclaim popularity snuffed by a lockout that wiped out an entire season.
"They are two of the most exciting players in the game, and to get an opportunity to watch them on the line, it's going to be a lot of fun," Sakic said. "I think both teams will be keeping a close eye on them."
The view might be enjoyed best by Buffalo's Daniel Briere, the third member of their line.
"It's definitely pretty cool," said Briere, who also will enjoy being joined in the starting lineup by Sabres teammates Brian Campbell and Ryan Miller, plus coach Lindy Ruff heading the East.
"Ovechkin and Crosby are the new face of the NHL," Briere said. "A few years ago, all you saw were guys who had been there for a while, dominating the league — Mario Lemieux, Jagr, Sakic. I think it's fun to see a little bit of new blood now. And it's exciting to be a part of that, to be going there with those guys."
Other changes the league hopes will generate more excitement: playing in the middle of the week for the first time since 1989 and televising the game on its new cable partner, Versus, a network that three years ago was known as OLN and specialized in hunting and fishing shows. The game will be offered in high-definition, with shots from "Rail Cam," an electronic eye that zips above the glass on one side of the ice.
Jen wrote a story about hockey’s popularity, and I wanted you to see Razor’s idea …
"Razor" Reaugh is best known for his witty Razor-isms. He also has plenty of ideas on how to "fix" hockey. A lot of them. Good and crazy ideas, too, about turning ice and boards blue while playing with a fluorescent orange puck and cutting the schedule and removing the netting. But if he were commish for a day, he would also employ a "foreigner" limit.
Reaugh's take: You cannot really fall in love with a league that 78 percent of its players are from a foreign country. If you don't know much about a sport but you know somebody who is in it, you watch. We get hurt by that. There should be a limit on Europeans. You can't tell me that some of the guys playing on fourth lines right now from Scandinavia are that much better than somebody coming out of Omaha, Neb., for the 4-6 minutes a night. Europeans are tough to sell from a marking perspective. Sports directors can't pronounce names so they say, 'We'll cover NASCAR.'
I love it.
Mayweather’s dad will only turn on his son if the price is right …
Floyd Mayweather Sr., who has trained Oscar De La Hoya since late 2000, said it doesn't appear he'll work for De La Hoya -- and against his son -- in the May 5 super welterweight title bout at the MGM Grand Garden.
De La Hoya hasn't chosen his trainer for what promoters hope will be the best-selling pay-per-view bout ever. It's expected to be the biggest nonheavyweight fight, and the elder Mayweather said he wants his share of a large pie.
"If they want me to work against my son, then they're going to have to pay me," Mayweather Sr. told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "My son and I, no matter what's gone down between us, he's still my blood. Hey, I'd work for Oscar if the deal is right, because that's my job and boxing is just a sport.
"But if you want me to tell you how to beat my son -- and I'm the only one who can tell Oscar how to do that -- then you need to pay me."
Mayweather Sr. said he was offered a $500,000 guarantee and $500,000 if De La Hoya wins, which he called insulting. He said he wants a flat $2 million. De La Hoya is expected to make a guarantee in excess of $20 million and will share in the pay-per-view profits.
Mayweather and his son have feuded since 1999 and rarely speak. The elder Mayweather said he would work for his son if his son asked, though he said he didn't expect it. Mayweather Jr. employs his uncle, Roger Mayweather, as his trainer.
Big Win for Directv; loss for Fans …unless you have Directv.
Major League Baseball is close to announcing a deal that will place its Extra Innings package of out-of-market games exclusively on DirecTV, which will also become the only carrier of a long-planned 24-hour baseball channel.
Extra Innings has been available to 75 million cable households and the two satellite services, DirecTV and the Dish Network. But the new agreement will take it off cable and Dish because DirecTV has agreed to pay $700 million over seven years, according to three executives briefed on the details of the contract but not authorized to speak about them publicly.
InDemand, which has distributed Extra Innings to the cable television industry since 2002, made an estimated $70 million bid to renew its rights, more than triple what it has been paying. Part of its offer included the right to carry the new baseball channel, but not exclusively.
The baseball channel is scheduled to start in 2009.
M.L.B., DirecTV and InDemand officials declined to comment.
DirecTV is also the exclusive outlet for the N.F.L.’s Sunday Ticket package, for which it pays $700 million annually. Sunday Ticket has about 2 million subscribers; Extra Innings about 750,000, according to The Sports Business Journal.
Extra Innings lets subscribers, for a fee, watch about 60 games a week from other local markets except their own.
The only other way that fans without DirecTV will be able to see Extra Innings will be on MLB.com’s mlb.tv service, but they must have high-speed broadband service. About 28 million homes have high-speed service, less than half the number of cable homes in the country. The picture quality of streamed games is not as good as what is available on cable or satellite.
Judge Judy makes A-Rod money …
Since Judge Judy debuted in 1996, the irascible former family court judge continues to dominate the daytime reality courtroom genre, spawning countless copycats. (The genre was all but written off following the demise of The People's Court in 1993.) Her $100 million, four-year contract, signed in 2004, makes her one of the highest-paid women in television. She has been nominated eight times for an Emmy award and written four books, all of which became national bestsellers.
Is U2 genius? Yes, they are.
LaRaque Mic’d for a fight! – Priceless Audio