Friday, February 02, 2007

Day 5: Super Bowl XLI in Miami

And with today in the bag, the week ends. It was good fun to be here, and like all other Super Bowl weeks, it is greater fun to go home. I don’t know how you business travelers do this.

Anyway, this has not been the place to come for exhaustive and comprehensive coverage of the Super Bowl itself, has it? I know there are many places you can go to read those stories that make you realize that the thousands of journalists down here have to write something every day.

But, to make sure I get it on the record, I need to pick this game.

As you know, I think Peyton Manning’s inability to win games of great consequence is an obvious flaw in his game that is not just a coincidence. But, I do wonder if this is all too destined at this point.

Meanwhile, you have the Bears who have been doubted all year. They have shown flaws of their own, but continue to keep winning and keep marching on.

The AFC is clearly better, so it stands to reason that the best of the AFC would beat the best of the NFC.

And of course, finally, I offer you my anti-Chicago agenda. Petty for sure, but here are the top 5 teams in all-time championships in the NFL:

1. Green Bay – 12 Titles
2. Chicago – 9 Titles
3. Cleveland – 8 Titles
4. New York Giants – 6 Titles
5. Dallas/Pittsburgh/San Francisco/Washington – 5 titles.

So, as a Green Bay fan, we really don’t need Chicago closing in on us more, although resistance is futile I am sure.

As you can see, I have an anti-Peyton agenda and an anti-Chicago agenda. Therefore my colliding agendas cancel each-other out, and I just have to pick the team I think is better.

That is the Colts. Even though, Urlacher is my favorite player in this game. The Colts are the better team from top to bottom.

Give me Colts 28, Bears 24.

I wish I could pick the game with more conviction, but I just don’t have a great feel for this one.

Ron Rivera awaits Dallas …and I think he is my choice for coach, although Singletary appeals to me, too…

If Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera felt besieged Thursday by the attention paid a report about the Dallas Cowboys' interest in him, imagine Rivera's reaction to the hype next week if his defense shuts down the Colts to win the Super Bowl.

America's Team might start knocking at the door of America's assistant coach before breakfast Monday.

"I've talked to nobody," an exasperated Rivera told 20 or so reporters gathered around his table during a media session Thursday.

"My wife [Stephanie] called me last night about it," Rivera said, calling the situation "a little overwhelming."

Rivera left no doubt he wants to be the ninth head-coaching candidate Cowboys owner Jerry Jones interviews and even named Jones first when listing the biggest selling points of the job.

But whether Rivera would consider a lateral but more lucrative move to become Dallas' defensive coordinator after his contract runs out Sunday remains unclear. That idea came up last week during Norv Turner's interview, when Turner mentioned Rivera as an alternative at defensive coordinator after the Cowboys suggested secondary coach Todd Bowles.

Rivera and Turner have gotten to know and respect each other well enough through Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner, Norv's brother, that Rivera wanted to hire Norv Turner as his play-caller if Green Bay had offered him its job in 2006.

"I'm not sure what opportunity they have in mind, but once it comes to that time, hopefully it's an opportunity to my liking," Rivera said.

If Jones offers Rivera the chance to succeed Bill Parcells and sit in the same chair Tom Landry did, then all the frustration of the head-coaching interview process will have been worth it. Dallas is a dream job, and not just Lovie Smith's dream.

But if the offer isn't to become the head coach, the Cowboys will need Rivera more than Rivera needs the Cowboys.

Taking a job on Norv Turner's staff could move Rivera further away from getting an opportunity as a head coach than staying on Smith's staff would.

Next year will evolve into a year of transition in Dallas, with a new head coach and a new defensive coordinator. As that new coordinator, Rivera could be charged either with installing his Cover-2 defense on a roster built for the 3-4 scheme or adapting his own style to fit the personnel.

Either way it sounds like more of a career risk for Rivera than returning to coach a Bears defense built to stay on top.

Prince gave me a concert yesterday

Prince, the reclusive pop icon, stepped to the microphone at the Miami Convention Center on Thursday afternoon, apologized in advance for the aural overload he was about to cause, and said, “Contrary to rumor, I’d like to take a few questions right now.”

Well, it was a news conference. But at the first shout of a question, Prince turned his back to the audience of a few hundred reporters and burst into a hard-driving guitar riff that resonated like the first rumblings of thunder in an electrical storm.

Prince and his band squeezed more juice out of their 15-minute preview of their Super Bowl XLI halftime show than could be strained from a grove of Florida orange trees.

He wore a suit, a shirt unbuttoned to his navel and boots, all of which were as orange as the “C” on the Chicago Bears’ helmets. In his dress and in his performance, Prince was as vibrant as Billy Joel, the musician who preceded him on the stage, was dreary. Clad in khaki and black, Joel, who will sing the national anthem, answered questions as if he were channeling New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick.

“I’m just here to do a press conference,” Joel said. “I’m not here to entertain anybody.”

That job fell to Prince, who was more than up to the task. He sang “Johnny B. Goode,” “Anotherloverholenyohead” and “Get on the Boat.” If his three-song set was any indication, the Bears and the Indianapolis Colts will be hard pressed to outperform him Sunday at Dolphin Stadium.

Peter King on the HOF

It's that time of year again. Time to bash the 40 media people who select the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame class.

I'm one of them, and here's my main observation about the Class of 2007: I have no idea who it will be. This is the only time in the decade and a half that I've been on the selection committee that there's not a sure thing, or close to one, among the finalists. I can't pick one guy who's a no-doubter. Here's how I handicap the race, with the selection meeting to begin Saturday at 7:30 a.m.

Even money --Thurman Thomas. More than one Buffalo player from one of the greatest offenses ever deserves to be Hall-bound, and behind Jim Kelly, Thomas is the most deserving.

3:2 -- Bruce Matthews, Paul Tagliabue. No other player has made more Pro Bowls than Matthews, who had 14, and he played more games than any other position player (296) ever. His candidacy might be hurt by the previous election of Mike Munchak and Warren Moon, with voters wondering if three offensive players from a bad playoff team should be in the Hall.

Tagliabue was the gold standard for commissioners for a decade, which should make him a lock. But some voters will argue the NFL was going to be the power league it is today with anyone's guidance, and some voters don't like the perceived steps back the media took under him. That could hurt his chances.

2:1 -- Art Monk, Michael Irvin. Monk and Irvin could cancel each other out, though both deserve to make it. There's going to be some sentiment in the room along the lines of "Geez, could we please get Monk in and end this annual melodrama with him?'' Troy Aikman and Jimmy Johnson are really trying to help Irvin's candidacy with some gentle reminders to voters about how hugely important Irvin was to the Cowboys' success.

3:1 -- Bob Kuechenberg, Derrick Thomas, Andre Tippett. Kuechenberg may have been the best Dolphins lineman of the seventies, which should get him in one of these years ... Will the panel see Thomas as one of the best five pass-rushers of all time or as a one-dimensional player who never played the run well? ... Tippett is my boutique pick. I would love to see him make it. He's a guy who averaged 10 sacks a year as a strongside linebacker (most sackers played the weak side) with very little defensive help on a bad New England team.

4:1 -- Russ Grimm, Gary Zimmerman, Richard Dent,Fred Dean. Come on. Put a Hog in the Hall. That's my view ... And Zimmerman was on two all-decade teams: the eighties and nineties. Very deserving ... Dent and Dean could cancel each other out. Both are deserving, and one could sneak in during a year when there are no locks.

The following story has filled my email box. Yes, Liverpool is my favorite soccer team. In fact, aside from the Packers, Liverpool may be my favorite sports team, period. And yes, I have big problems with how Tom Hicks runs his teams. So, yes, I am freaking out at the prospect of Tom Hicks buying Liverpool …I also find it interesting that he has all of this money laying around after hearing how the Rangers and Stars were bleeding him dry…

The proposed takeover of Liverpool by George Gillett Jr moved a step closer to completion last night when it emerged that the American had joined forces with his compatriot Tom Hicks, the owner of the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Stars, to raise the funds for a £470m bid.The alliance between the American franchise owners was revealed as Liverpool's former suitor, Dubai International Capital, launched a scathing attack on the Premiership club for the breakdown of talks, with Liverpool accusing the group backed by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum of attempting to "bully" them into agreeing a deal. Yet confirmation that Gillett's own interest will be supplemented by Hicks's has offered the club a more than attractive alternative, one which they hope will come to fruition as early as next week.

The American businessmen, who have worked together on the board of Gillett's Swift & Co meat processing firm, will go 50-50 towards securing the club's shares, valued at about £175m, and will also underwrite the potential £215m construction of a stadium on Stanley Park and guarantee the current debts of about £80m. Gillett, who formerly owned the American football club the Miami Dolphins and currently the Montreal Canadiens ice hockey team, talked with Hicks at last week's NHL All-Star game and the partnership idea hardened.

Hicks, 60, was in England this week for discussions with Liverpool before returning to the United States last night. The club's owners are encouraged by Gillett's new business partner's extensive experience in sport - his Southwest Sports Group bought the Rangers baseball side for $250m (£125m) in 1998 and the Stars ice hockey franchise in 1995 ,and they also own Mesquite Championship Rodeo - and are reassured that there would be two backers so they would not be at the whim of just one.

The chairman, David Moores, will sell his 51.6% shareholding, receiving about £88m for a stake he bought for nearer £12m in 1991, but will remain on the board under the new owners, as will Rick Parry, the chief executive.

The club are attracted to Hicks's background in the construction industry. Although the tender has already gone out for the building of the new Anfield they would lean on Hicks's experience, given that he is overseeing the development of land between the Rangers stadium in Arlington, Dallas, and the new adjoining $1bn (£500m) Dallas Cowboys arena.

A formal announcement is expected next week- Hicks will be back in the country on Monday - and confirmation of the Americans' joint venture has appeased shareholders, supporters and the manager, Rafael Benítez, as the war of words with DIC rages in the background. A source close to Sheikh Maktoum said yesterday that DIC had become "fed up with Liverpool's attitude" and that the club's board had behaved "dishonourably" in switching their sights to Gillett's revised proposals, submitted last week. A source close to the sheikh said: "We do a lot of deals and if we'd allowed the people at Liverpool to mess us around then the next person we do a deal with would do the same thing."

Quincy is employed!

The Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings will have a news conference today to announce the signing of former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Quincy Carter, The Times has learned.

Carter was in town over the weekend and was introduced at a local church along with general manager Butch Bellah, coach Jon Norris and owner Dan Neman. Norris signed Carter to a contract on Wednesday, Newman told The Times.

"Quincy Carter initiated this,'' Newman said. "He is expected to be in camp when we open training camp in March. Coach Norris said Quincy indicated that this is his chance to get back to the NFL.''

Carter played for the Cowboys from 2001-03. He played one season with the New York Jets in 2004. He played last season with the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL but was released after only a month.

His career has been marred by allegations of drug use. He was arrested as recently as Dec. 15 in Dallas-Fort Worth on charges of marijuana possession.

Josh Howard robbed

It's been some kind of week for Josh Howard.

The fourth-year small forward celebrated the birth of his first child Wednesday night, only to be denied his first All-Star honor Thursday evening.

"He got robbed," Mavericks teammate Devin Harris said. "No way he doesn't get on the All-Star team."

Apparently, there was a way. The Western Conference coaches didn't deem Howard worthy of one of the seven reserve spots for the Feb. 18 All-Star Game in Las Vegas.
The Mavs won't be without representation. Dirk Nowitzki, the team's leading scorer and rebounder, earned his sixth consecutive selection. If anything, Howard's snub adds even more weight to Nowitzki's MVP campaign.

Many within the Mavs' organization were understandably outraged by Howard's omission.
"I'm very disappointed that Josh was left off the All-Star team," coach Avery Johnson said. "We'll just keep focusing on winning a championship."

The fiery small forward could still be selected by NBA commissioner David Stern as an injury replacement for starting center Yao Ming (Houston) or reserve forward Carlos Boozer (Utah). According to an NBA official, there is no timetable for Stern's picks.

Regardless of whether Howard is eventually chosen, the slight underscores an apparent lack of respect for Nowitzki's teammates. Phoenix, Detroit, New Jersey, Houston, Miami and San Antonio each have multiple All-Stars despite trailing the Mavs (38-9) in the standings.

The Suns lead the way with three All-Stars -- Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion. The Nets and Heat have losing records.

"Josh Howard should be an All-Star, point blank," TNT analyst and NBA legend Magic Johnson said.

Stars take 4 points in San Jose????…that is a shocker…

Stars rookies Joel Lundqvist and Krys Barch accomplished Thursday what the NHL’s best power play couldn’t.

They scored.

Barch notched his first career NHL goal, Lundqvist doubled his career point total and the Stars penalty-killers did their job again in a 4-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks.

“I thought our players did a great job of executing,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said. “We had talked about tweaks that we wanted to make. … We played a very solid road game.”

The Stars (31-19-2) posted consecutive wins over the Sharks in their extended stay at the HP Pavilion. In the process, they moved within three points of the Sharks for second place in the Pacific Division and the fifth seed in the Western Conference.
“If we were going to get ourselves to the level in the standings that San Jose is then these were very important games for us,” Tippett said.

Jere Lehtinen and Stu Barnes also scored for the Stars.

The high-powered Sharks, a team that featured three All-Star forwards in Dallas last week, somehow went 20:20 without a shot. That’s more than a full period without getting the puck on goal, spanning the first and second periods and including three power plays.

Again, the Sharks sputtered with the man-advantage despite possessing the league’s top-ranked power play.

The Sharks didn’t for the second consecutive game. The Stars killed off 13 consecutive San Jose power plays in two games.

Fun with Dick Vitale

Someone at the University of Louisville sports Web site calculated that Dick Vitale loudly dropped 156 names during the Louisville-Connecticut men's basketball game.

Those names would include Maria Sharapova, the New York Yankees, Dobbins High School, Frank Sinatra, Rosie O'Donnell, Marlon Garcia, two other Vitales, two of his grandchildren and Bo Derek. If you weren't keeping score at home, that's about four names a minute -- less the timeouts, babieeeee.

And yes, I have written down this path before. I wrote a "Why-is-this-man-screaming-at-me?" column. I pointed out the inherent hypocrisy of Vitale complaining about the evils of big-time athletics while forever dropping on national TV the recruiting names of high school hotshots -- heady stuff back in the hood.

And here is the list

A list of teams and people that Dick Vitale talked about Monday night that had absolutely nothing to do with the Louisville/Connecticut game he was calling:

1. Duke
2. Mike Krzyzewski
3. Duke (1986)
4. Kansas
5. Tennessee
6. Bruce Pearl
7. Chris Lofton
8. Tennessee (Women's)
9. Kentucky
10. Tubby Smith
11. Kentucky (1996)
12. Kentucky (1997)
13. Kentucky (1998)
14. Pittsburgh
15. Marquette
16. St. John's
17. Syracuse
18. Providence
19. New Mexico State
20. Reggie Theus
21. Nevada
22. N.C. State (Women's)
23. Kay Yow
24. Boston University
25. Indianapolis Colts
26. Peyton Manning
27. Louisville football team
28. New York Yankees
29. Villanova
30. Maria Sharapova
31. Oklahoma State
32. Texas
33. Texas Tech
34. Indiana
35. Texas A&M
36. LSU
37. Depaul
38. Dobbins High School
39. Brian Brohm
40. Joe B. Hall
41. Jay Bilas
42. Sean Williams
43. Al Skinner
44. Marlon Garcia
45. Frank Sinatra
46. Illinois
47. Lou Carnesecca
48. Kevin Durant
49. Greg Oden
50. Alando Tucker

51. Aaron Brooks
52. Curry Kirkpatrick
53. Arizona
54. UCLA
55. His grandson Hunter
56. His grandson Jake
57. Tony Dungy
58. Joe Torre
59. Derek Jeter
60. Arizona (1997)
61. Bill Parcells
62. Brent Musberger
63. Steve Lavin
64. Eric Morgan
65. DJ White
66. Kelvin Sampson
67. Ohio State
68. Rece Davis
69. Tom Brady
70. Mike Anthony
71. Norby Williamson
72. Bo Derek
73. Tom Crean
74. Mario Boggan
75. Jameson Curry
76. North Carolina
77. Howie Schwab
78. Eva Longoria
79. Rosie O'Donnell
80. Donald Trump
81. Jim Boeheim
82. Bob Wright
83. Dan Marino
84. Jeff Jacobs
85. John Saunders
86. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
87. Erin Andrews
88. Bruce Weber
89. Rick Bozich
90. Wisconsin
91. Bo Ryan
92. Kammron Taylor
93. Florida
94. Georgetown
95. Chris Dodd
96. Digger Phelps
97. Mike Tranghese
98. Tony Bennett
99. Dave Gavitt
100. Danny Gavitt
101. Andrew Bynum
102. Sebastian Telfair
103. Amir Johnson
104. Scottie Reynolds
105. Uconn (women's)
106. John Vitale
107. Christopher Vitale
108. Justin Hawkins
109. Utah
110. Vernon Rule
111. Jim Valvano
112. Dee Rose
113. Walt Trumble
114. Jamal Mashburn
115. Pennsylvania
116. Detroit Pistons
117. Larry Bird
118. Magic Johnson
119. J.R. Giddens
120. Billy Gillespie
121. Acie Law
122. Nate Carter
123. South Florida
124. Robert McCallum
125. Chicago Bears
126. Lovie Smith
127. Mike & Mike
128. Dallas Cowboys
129. Tom Izzo
130. Dominic James
131. Paul Harris
132. Billy Donovan
133. Larry Brown
134. Lute Olson
135. Eddie Sutton
136. Gene Bartow
137. Al McGuire
138. Hugh Durham
139. Roy Williams
140. Frank Gardner
141. Ron Franklin
142. Fran Fraschilla
143. Tommy Amaker
144. Johnny Dawkins
145. Danny Ferry
146. Billy King
147. Mark Alarie
148. Awesome Baby (race horse)
149. Tim Welsh
150. Geoff McDermott
151. Herbert Hill
152. Georgia Tech
153. Thaddeus Young
154. Javaris Crittenton
155. South Carolina
156. Dave Odom
Please, please, please just call the game.

Here is some email:

Hey Bob,

Been a while, but I was just perusing the headlines at work and saw this:

Hicks is going in halfsies with George Gillet (Canadiens owner) to buy Liverpool for $450 million total. I'm not going to get a chance to listen to y'all today, so I was wondering your thoughts. My play-by-play reaction when I saw the headline:

1. Is that TOM Hicks?
2. Holy crap! He's really going to do it!
3. Well, I guess he's interested in a league where you really can buy your way into the top 4 (unlike baseball).
4. WHAT THE HELL!? Where does he get $225 million in CASH?! I mean, really, that much in liquid assets? Remind why it is again that the Rangers are committed to developing players and acting like their the Twins and A's? Because if the Stars are losing so much money that they had to shut down the league for a year, it kind of makes you wonder where all the money is coming from.
5. Does this bode well for an increasing interest in soccer here? More coverage? Make it easier for US players to go over there?

Anyways, lots of questions...look forward to hearing back.


I heard your comments about the media’s love for Norv and their hatred of Parcells. I have been having dialogue with Galloway and Hansen for being so cruel to Parcells as if the guy had never coached a game. I mentioned to Randy that Bob Sturm finally said something that made sense. Maybe Galloway,Hansen,Taylor,etc. will get more attention if Norv is hired. His response really disappoints me. He was really pissed and asked who in the hell is Bob Sturm. Never heard of him. He said you need to get your facts right. The only media guys who know Norv are him and Hansen. I mentioned the Engles as well as Jasque Taylor, but he said none of them knew any of these coaches. Oh well, I got ripped, but I totally agree with you and I was just happy that someone else might feel the sameway. Keith Zembower, Rowlett

He has never heard of me? I can see that. If he hasn’t heard of many of the players in the sports he covers, I wouldn’t expect him to know the guys on our station. Enjoy your beverage, Randy.


I hear what you are saying on the head coaching search. And I agree with you that Norv Turner doesn't knock my socks off either. But I have yet to hear you come up with another solution. Who out there would you rather see get the job? I appreciate you opinion, but it is starting to sound to me like you are not going to be happy no matter what happens. Is that the case? Do you have someone else in mind?

Thanks, and keep up the good work.


I think Ron Rivera is my choice (of the interviewed or likely to be interviewed). I could handle Norv if he can bring Rivera or Singletary…


Harry Redknapp is pissed (language)

The Office

Tony Romo


Just Sayin' said...

Rooting against a player in a big game because you don't think he can win big games? That's well thought out.

I seem to remember Brett Favre losing 3 times to the Cowboys before he finally got to the Super Bowl.

Fake Sturm said...

How can the two leading MVP candidates not be starting in the all-star game? The all-star game is a freaking joke, and the fans should have their right to vote taken away. It is a popularity contest and I guess the two white guys just arent that popular.

Gimme daaa Bears in a close one:
Colts 3
Bears 142

Jake said...

The NBA All-Star game = NHL game as the most worthless events in sports. Yao Ming, Yao Ming Yao Ming Yao Ming...

Colts infinity
Bears 7

MrSimic said...

Brett Favre "so excited" to be back. Whew. Our long national nightmare is over.

Mike said...

I can only hope that Hicks screws up Liverpool as much as he has the Rangers.

cracker1743 said...

Hicks indexes Rangers payroll to attendance, pleads poverty and small market woes, but finds $225 million under his couch cushions to buy a soccer team? Makes perfect sense to me. Somebody ought to choke him with that extra cash. Or his own severed privates. Or Galloway's enlarged liver.