The Bad News: We have 2 remaining days of Football this season.
The following are random notes from the playoff weekend:
• Marty Schottenheimer is going to get fired. I understand that. But much like the Byner fumble, how does the coach take the fall for the interception fumble? That was one of the freakiest ways to lose a game in the history of the NFL, right? The Chargers were up 8, and picked off Tom Brady for the 3rd time. But a second later, Troy Brown stripped the ball and got it back for a fresh set of downs for the Patriots. Tom Brady then marches the Pats the remainder of the field to punch it in for the tying score.
• Rex Grossman played well yesterday. I have to hand it to him. That pass on the final drive 3rd and 10 to Davis to set up the winning FG was genius. I don’t really like the kid, but you had to admire his ability to be in the spotlight all week and play well enough to win a tough playoff game. The CBS guys killed him moments after his win, but I thought by Grossman standards he was very, very good.
• LaDanian Tomlinson was mad about the Patriots mocking the Merriman dance at midfield after the win. I believe that is the latest fun bit in the NFL – mocking the other teams celebration. We saw it plenty with opponents of the Giants goofing on the “jump shot” bit, and now we saw Pats goofing all day with the “Merriman”. LT looked like he was ready to rip some heads off when the cameras caught him.
• I was watching the Ravens defense on Saturday wondering how they could upgrade it. I mean all 11 of the players on that D look like absolute stars. Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Terrell Suggs lead a unit that plays dominating football almost all the time. Then, I watch the Bears defense dominate all season but still be at the mercy of their QB. And I wonder about all of the many people that keep telling me that Defense wins championships. Does it? Ask the Ravens this morning if their defense needed more than 6 points from their offense to win a championship. At some point, no matter how good your defense is, you still have to be able to score the occasional Touchdown. The most dominating defense of our generation might have been the 1985 Bears. Didn’t they have the benefit of having the greatest RB of all-time on their side? Just asking.
• On the other hand, wasn’t it wonderful to watch Ed Reed demonstrate how the safety position is supposed to look? The word Safety is not supposed to be ironic (Roy).
• Reggie Bush got hit so hard on the first drive of the game that I wondered if he would have any impact whatsoever the rest of the night. I guess I got my answer when he decided to break a few Barry Sanders runs off. I am pretty sure the Houston Texans are pleased with their decision. After all, Mario Williams had a few sacks this year. But, now, Bush and the Saints are 60 minutes from the Super Bowl in his rookie season. If they make it, their investment has already paid for itself in the first year of his career. Mario Williams = Sam Bowie?
• Adam Vinatieri looks like he may make it in this league. Somewhere, Mike Vanderjagt was sure he could have done that, too.
• Sure looks like you need a good TE in this league, eh? Dallas Clark, Todd Heap, Antonio Gates, Ben Watson…the AFC has a few. And the Saints appeared to use Former Texan Billy Miller more than anyone else down the middle of the field.
• Jeff Garcia is overly-intense. Do you really think that Brian Westbrook needs Garcia screaming at him when he drops a pass? I am pretty sure that Westbrook has earned his stripes enough that he doesn’t need his backup QB in his face.
• Is it just me or does every team still alive have a money FG kicker? That kick from Robbie Gould was good when it left his foot.
• I’m not sure I ever saw Brian Dawkins so quiet in a key game.
• Even when Tom Brady is playing so poorly, he still can make those plays to win the game. He needed some help badly yesterday, but at crunch time he still made the plays.
• Has Peyton Manning ever considered saying no to a commercial offer? Not that I ever have, but he should have more money than me.
• McAllister and Bush. The New Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside? If you never knew there was an old Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside, then don’t worry about it.
• Why didn’t Andy Reid and the Eagles go for it on 4th and 15 with less than 2 minutes to play? This is the playoffs. You are likely not going to get the ball back, and if you do, there may be less than 30 seconds left. You must go for it there.
• I would say Steve McNair’s interception on the goal line would qualify as a killer INT.
• I cannot believe we have another episode of Colts-Patriots next week. That should be wonderful. And Saints-Bears looks great, too. Early picks? Colts-Saints.
Here are some links:
Can we start the NBA Playoffs now? …because the Mavs couldn’t play better…
Down one with 6.5 seconds left, the Mavericks had one last chance to pull out a win in one of those games where just enough seemingly didn't go right.
So guess what? They didn't go to their golden-haired leader. By design.
Instead, a struggling Josh Howard avoided a pair of airborne Canada-dwelling Texans with less than a second left, and the Mavs escaped Toronto with an improbable 97-96 victory Sunday afternoon.
"We're not a perfect basketball team, but this team is very resilient," coach Avery Johnson said not long after walking off the floor at Air Canada Centre, exchanging congratulatory hugs with Howard and Jason Terry.
The NBA-leading Mavs (31-8) swept a two-game trip that began Friday in Indiana and ran their latest winning streak to four. It's also their 17th win in 18 games.
Terry and Howard hooked up on the deciding basket, running a play to perfection that the Mavs work on in every practice. The set begins with Terry handling the ball. Howard cuts to the basket, and Nowitzki slides to the wing.
Nowitzki, three weeks removed from a buzzer-beater to beat Phoenix, surprisingly isn't the first option. It's designed for Howard initially, then Nowitzki. If neither is open, Terry gets the shot.
"We work on end-of-game situations, and you have to be ready for every option," said Nowitzki, the game's high scorer with 38 points. "Things aren't always going to be there the way you want them to be, and if I would have come off the screen, I would have had a shot. But Jet made a great pass, and Josh had a heck of a finish."
Beckham kicked off Real Madrid – could arrive sooner than we thought …
David Beckham is looking to arrange an early release from his contract with Real Madrid to join up with Los Angeles Galaxy before the end of the Primera Liga season, Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber has said.
'I understand that David's lawyers are working to secure a possible amicable exit from Real because we would not be able to pay the buy-out clause,' Garber told Spanish sports daily Marca on Monday.
'We want to him to have it as soon as possible so the league and the Galaxy are doing everything we can to make this happen. Furthermore, David is keen to come sooner.'
The former England captain decided not to renew his contract with Real and has agreed a move to the Galaxy when his contract expires in June.
The five-year deal with the MLS side is worth $250 million, the biggest in world sport.
Following his announcement, however, Real coach Fabio Capello dropped the midfielder from the squad and said he would not play for the side again.
The Italian said it was not possible to rely on a player who had already committed himself to another club.
The MLS season starts in April.
Great NFL Free Agency List …
Bill Simmons wonders about Coach Age Limits in Football …
In Parcells' honor, I'm introducing the Speed Limit Coaching Corollary. If the coach of your favorite team is older than 55, or if your team is about to hire someone who's older than 55, there's a good chance you should start preparing for a frustrating stretch of football. Consider the following things:
• If you picked the best 2006 coaching jobs strictly in terms of "maximizing the talent on hand," any unbiased person would go with Sean Payton, Bill Belichick, Eric Mangini, Jeff Fisher, Lovie Smith and Brian Billick in some order. I would also include Mike McCarthy and Mike Nolan for overachieving with crummy teams, and we probably should include Andy Reid to be safe (even though he's overrated by the media and a notoriously bad clock-management guy). Anyway, every coach we just mentioned is younger than 55 years old; everyone but Billick and Belichick is younger than 50. There isn't a geezer on the list.
• The following "famous" coaches presided over underachieving, shoddy and/or terrible 2006 teams and peaked at least 7-8 years ago: Parcells, Coughlin, Denny Green, Joe Gibbs and Art Shell. All of them are older than 55.
• In the past three decades, seven famous 55-plus coaches were lured out of retirement or college and bombed miserably: Mike Ditka (Saints), Buddy Ryan (Cards), Tom Flores (Seahawks), Chuck Knox (Rams), George Seifert (Panthers), Steve Spurrier (Redskins) and Hank Stram (Saints). Three others acquitted themselves much better: Jim Mora (a 13-win season with the Colts), Dick Vermeil (a Super Bowl with the Rams) and Marty Schottenheimer (currently presiding over the Super Bowl favorite). Does a 30-percent success rate sound enticing to you?"
• Respected coaches like Tom Landry, Bud Grant, Don Coryell, Chuck Noll, Dan Reeves and Don Shula hung on with their longtime teams for 3-8 years too long (depending on the coach) before finally packing it in. All of them reached that "hanging on too long" point after hitting the 55-year mark.
Maybe coaching isn't a young man's game, but it's definitely a younger man's game. Read any story about a successful younger coach (Mangini, Payton, even guys like Gruden, Belichick and Vermeil back in the day) and the same themes keep cropping up: These guys live for their jobs. They don't see their families. They work 80-hour weeks. They sleep on their office sofa. They get up at 3:30 in the morning looking for an edge. They watch so much tape their eyes glaze over. They aren't mellowed by trophies and awards or grandkids or swollen bank accounts. They're still hungry.
They have something to prove. And given the demands of the job, wouldn't you need a never-ending wealth of energy to coach in the National Football League? You need to think fast, crack the whip, scream and yell, figure out enigmatic players in their 20s, keep burning that midnight oil, and evolve with the ongoing changes in the game ... the older you get, the harder it gets. You become stuck in your ways and more resistant to change. That's a terrible trait for an NFL head coach.
Two other factors come into play. First, who's going to work harder to prepare his team on a weekly basis -- a younger guy gunning for respect and a megacontract, or an older guy who already made $25-30 million in his career? And second, older coaches aren't nearly as intimidating as younger coaches because they always seem to have one foot out the door. They could leave because of TV opportunities (like Jimmy Johnson); because they're too old-school to deal with the newer generation of players (Coughlin); because they might not have the same fire anymore (Parcells and Gibbs); or because they're just plain old (Vermeil and Levy). But it's always something. Were the Giants and Cowboys naturally predisposed to being sloppy teams ... or were they poorly managed, poorly motivated, poorly prepared and going about their collective business without any real fear for their futures? You tell me.
All I know is this: I'd rather hire a younger coach who was mentored by the right people and hope he grows into the job over an older coach who already peaked. For instance, look at Mangini's successful season with the Jets. He never played football past the Division III level in college, never worked as a head coach in his life ... hell, just 12 years ago, he was doing grunt work in the PR department for the Cleveland Browns. Then he spent the next decade getting his Ph.D. from Belichick Academy, and the rest was history. Bill Parcells probably has forgotten more football than Mangini has ever known, but maybe that's the problem -- Mangini is still learning about football, amassing knowledge, busting his butt and moving in a specific direction, whereas Parcells is simply running on the fumes of what he already knows.
Guinnes Book Stationary Bike Record ….
George Hood, who hoped to pedal his way into the Guinness Book of World Records, got his wish Saturday night.
The 49-year-old Aurora resident began riding a stationary bike at the Five Seasons Sports Club in Burr Ridge at 4 a.m. Wednesday and surpassed the previous record of 82 hours by 8:28 p.m. Saturday. He stopped several minutes before midnight after completing his goal of 85 hours.
"He's very grateful -- and very tired," said Matt Baron, a spokesman for Five Seasons.
Baron said Hood was talking and thanking his supporters right up to the end, but was taken by paramedics to Adventist Hinsdale Hospital as a precaution after he got off the bike.
"He'll be under observation for a while, and they're going to administer fluids," Baron said.
The current record of 82 hours was set last year by Brian Overkaer of Denmark.
Getting the accomplishment by the Drug Enforcement Administration supervisor into the Guinness Book may take several weeks as officials need to certify the record, Baron said.
As Hood was nearing the 82nd hour -- and had spun more than 1,000 miles -- he sped up.
The 23-year federal law enforcement veteran had been averaging about 12.7 miles per hour. Coming down the final stretch, he cycled at 13.5 miles per hour.
Let’s all hope that Dwight is not gone! The Office’s Dwight Schrute …
Simpsons go Soccer
Refs protect D-Wade