The Colts face doubters everywhere for the repeat of last year. It all begins tonight with another popular pick to arrive in Arizona in late January, the Saints.
Let there be Football….
Colts + Saints = Must see TV …
They don't get much bigger than this, at least not until the playoffs roll around.
With a sold-out RCA Dome crowd and national TV audience looking on this evening, the Indianapolis Colts open defense of their Super Bowl championship with a prime-time showdown against the New Orleans Saints.
The Dome will be rockin', and why not? The NFL's season opener pits elite teams from each conference:
The Colts, along with New England, San Diego and Baltimore, are considered the best the AFC has to offer. Including the postseason, Indy has won 39 of its past 48 games.
The Saints are likewise on the short list of NFC contenders, along with Dallas and Chicago. New Orleans nearly joined the Colts in Miami for Super Bowl XLI, but fell to the Bears 39-14 in the conference title game.
It's not a stretch to wonder if these inter-conference rivals might be providing a preview of something much bigger down the road. If they meet again, it would be in the final game of the season: Super Bowl XLII, Feb. 3 in Glendale, Ariz.
That would be historic. No teams have met in a regular-season opener, then reconvened at the Super Bowl.
But there's a first time for everything, right?
"I can't talk about that,'' Colts veteran defensive tackle Raheem Brock said, shrugging. "We're just going to go out there and do what we do.''
Added Saints coach Sean Payton: "We just want to start with this first week. It's a long season and it's awfully difficult to get to that game.''
Saints quarterback Drew Brees allowed himself to at least briefly consider the possibility of Colts vs. Saints II in the desert.
"Sure, of course I'd love to think that could happen,'' the former Purdue University standout said. "But there's about 19 games between now and then, so let's just go ahead and focus on this first one.''
And what a first one it looks to be.
First, the crowd will be entertained by Hoosier rock star John Mellencamp, then whipped into a frenzy as the world championship banner is unveiled.
Reggie Bush reeling in Peyton for commercial lead …
Reggie Bush couldn't resist himself. The New Orleans Saints running back had to laugh at Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.
"When I was watching [Manning host] Saturday Night Live, I was dying laughing the whole time," Bush said. "That was ridiculously funny. His credit card commercials are funny. Every [commercial] he does is funny."
Manning, the MVP of Super Bowl XLI, is the league MVP of commercials, too. He leads the NFL in endorsements, having appeared in national campaigns for Sprint Nextel, Gatorade, DirecTV and MasterCard among others. He made an NFL-leading $11.5 million in endorsements last year, according to Sports Illustrated.
During his Saturday Night Live monologue after the Colts' Super Bowl victory over the Bears, Manning joked that he had fulfilled two of his career goals by winning the Super Bowl and appearing in "half of America's television commercials."
"Peyton's in a league of his own when it comes to commercials," Bush said. "He's a great guy, a great competitor, a great quarterback, and he's always shown he has some acting ability. He's good."
Bush, 22, is trying to catch Manning on and off the field.
His Saints, who unexpectedly made it to the NFC Championship Game last season, play the defending Super Bowl champions in the NFL season opener tonight in Indianapolis. Bush and Manning helped hype the game with an NBC ad featuring the two of them playing practical jokes on each other.
"He's such a special player," said Manning, a New Orleans native. "Being a young player, you can just see he's one of those guys who just kind of gets it. He's got a good personality, and he's fun to be around. The spot we did together, we had a lot of fun doing. I think he's got a great career in that market."
Bush will appear in six commercials during tonight's game. Bush's marketing agent, Mike Ornstein, said Bush has done 19 national commercials in his two seasons, including 11 this year. Bush already has appeared in an international adidas campaign with soccer star David Beckham -- "Futbol meets Football." He also has filmed a Visa ad with Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
Sports Business Daily conducted a survey that concluded that Bush was the third-most marketable NFL player behind only Manning and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
"I don't know what it is, but he has it," Ornstein said. "... There are certain guys, whether it's Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods, that when they walk into a room -- it doesn't matter whether there's a thousand people in that room or a hundred -- that room just kind of stops for a minute. Everyone knows the guy is there. I'm not saying Reggie's to their level yet, but the same thing happens with Reggie."
Bush became a recognizable star when he won the Heisman Trophy at Southern California in 2005. The Houston Texans passed on him with the No. 1 overall pick in 2006, and he ended up in Hurricane Katrina-ravaged New Orleans, something he thanks the Texans for in a Madden 08 commercial.
Bush’s Madden Commercial
VY Madden Commercial
Romo could have been out of football if it wasn’t for Quincy’s pot …
Since Aikman's retirement, Jones has been searching for a successor. Quincy Carter, Chad Hutchinson, Drew Henson, Clint Stoerner, Anthony Wright, Drew Bledsoe and Vinny Testaverde all came and went.
In 2004, Romo was fourth in a four-man quarterback race. Carter had helped the Cowboys reach the playoffs a year earlier, Testaverde was the perfect backup in Parcells' mind, and Henson was given a guaranteed contract after being acquired from Houston for a third-round pick.
But if not for Carter being cut before the 2004 season, maybe Romo's career ends.
Even with Romo's rise last season, questions remain about his future. Is he the quarterback from his first five games or is he the quarterback from his last five? Is he the next Troy Aikman or Roger Staubach? Or is he Danny White or Gary Hogeboom? Or, worse, has he peaked?
Jones is gambling on Romo. In April, he had the chance to draft Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn, the eighth-rated player on the Cowboys' draft board, with the 22nd overall pick. It was the perfect scenario for Jones: a top-of-the-draft quarterback at less-than-top-of-the-draft money.
But Jones traded the pick to Cleveland, which took Quinn, and made it clear Romo was his guy for this year and the future.
Romo is entering the final year of his contract. He will make $1.5 million this year, a pittance when compared to the salaries of some other starting quarterbacks. Houston gave Matt Schaub, who's only made two career starts, a six-year, $48 million contract. St. Louis re-signed Pro Bowler Marc Bulger to a six-year, $60 million contract.
Romo probably ranks somewhere between those figures, but his agents, Tom Condon and Ken Kremer, and the Cowboys have had limited contract talks.
Romo is not worried.
"If I go and play well, it'll take care of itself," he said. "If I go out and stink, I probably won't have one, and you go on to the next part of your life. It's part of it. You try to do your best. You work as hard as you can and let the chips fall where they may."
T-New offers optimism yesterday ….
Terence Newman did not feel like talking about the partially torn plantar fascia in his right foot. Neither did Cowboys coach Wade Phillips.
Owner and general manager Jerry Jones, however, said he liked what he saw from Newman on the field Wednesday during rehab work and is optimistic the cornerback will play in Sunday night's season opener against the New York Giants.
"He was pushing off and then he would rest it and then he would come back and push off again," Jones said. "The morning will be key. It'll be a little sore from the work he did."
Newman said he would talk about his availability for the game on Friday. Giants coach Tom Coughlin said he expects Newman to play.
Newman has not practiced in about three weeks since suffering the injury in a practice with Denver. Jones is holding out hope Newman will be available today.
Here is a helpful link: The NFL Distribution map for each Sunday’s games …I recommend you just get the NFL Sunday Ticket, but this is cool if you decide to save $300.
Uni Watch is on the case …
The dog days of August have finally given way to September, and that means it's time for the NFL, which kicks off its season Thursday night. And the season's biggest uniform change will be apparent before the game even starts, when the captains meet at the center of the field for the coin toss.
That's because team captains this year will be wearing a special captain's patch on the upper-right chest area (as you can sort of see here). The patches will be color-coordinated to match each jersey, and the gold star underneath the "C" marks the number of years that the player has been a captain under the league's new captaincy initiative.
How big a change is this? This big: To Uni Watch's knowledge, only three NFL teams in the past 50 years have worn captains' designations -- the 1994 Patriots, the 1992 Chargers, and the 1983 Cowboys. And Uni Watch wishes it had stayed that way. For starters, real estate on NFL jerseys is already in short supply, what with the disappearing sleeves, the massive NFL Equipment logo, the increasing use of chest wordmarks, and so on. Adding another element to the mix is gonna make for some seriously crowded jerseys -- especially for teams that already wear other jersey patches.
Moreover, imposing a standardized patch design on every team is so boring. Letting teams come up with their own designation styles can allow for more creative solutions, as we've seen in other sports. But don't lose too much sleep over it, because Uni Watch has a strong hunch that this experiment is going to be abandoned after one season. In fact, at least one team -- the Raiders -- has already opted out of the patch program, which should give you an early idea of what a big hit this is going to be.
On to college football, where two games are on my mind:
TCU at Texas reading = Revo Dreams of TCU in the Big 12 …
Yes, it's just a dream, and the odds that TCU will ever hear the Big 12 knock, knock, knocking on its door remain long at best.
Why? Because it makes too darn much sense, that's why.
There's one big overriding reason why it'll never happen and you've already guessed what that is, right?
To invite TCU to join the party would most likely mean turning the Big 2 and the Little 10 into the Big 14. Two more teams, in other words, to split the pie among, say TCU and BYU, or for argument's sake, maybe TCU and Arkansas, if the Razorbacks could be pried back out of the SEC.
As much as Mack or Stoops might agree that TCU is deserving, that the Horned Frogs' brand of football is as good as anybody else's in this or any conference, they're not likely to agree to take less money for their school just to do TCU a favor.
Still, if new Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe wants to start things off with a flourish, that's exactly what he should advise them to do.
Yeah, I know. I'm still dreaming.
For those scoring along, the Frogs' 27-0 dispatching of Baylor on Saturday extended their win streak against Big 12 teams to five.
To repeat a quote from Mack on these sports pages Wednesday, "That answers the question of whether they could be in the Big 12 or not. And they'd be really good in the Big 12.
"I didn't know how good they were [earlier] because we don't play teams who play them very often... in studying their films this spring, they're as good as anybody... and have not gotten the credit for it nationally that they deserve."
Yes, some of that may simply be self-serving coach-speak, from a coach whose team plays the Frogs in Austin on Saturday. Every coach wants to build up the next opponent. Makes you look better if you beat 'em and sets up the alibi if you don't.
But the Texas coach is right. TCU would be very good in the Big 12. The numbers, in fact, say they've been better than all but two teams in that conference for some years now.
Head coach Gary Patterson ranks favorably on a national basis in every won-loss category. Versus Top 25 teams the last five years, for instance, Patterson is 3-2 (60 percent), while Brown is 14-5 (73.7 percent) and Stoops is 16-8 (66.7 percent). The rest of the Big 12 is below 50 percent.
Versus nonconference BCS teams, Patterson is 8-3 (72.7 percent), while Stoops is 10-6 (62.5 percent) and Brown is 12-8 (60 percent).
TCU is 3-1 in bowl games in the past five years while Texas and Texas Tech are each 4-1 and OU is 2-3. The rest of the Big 12 is a combined 8-14 and only Nebraska (2-2) has been to as many bowl games as the Frogs.
Don't get me wrong, here. TCU, to my knowledge, isn't clamoring for an invitation to jump conferences.
"We're very happy in the Mountain West Conference," athletic director Danny Morrison assured me this week. "It's been a great conference for TCU.
"It's given us expanded exposure in a regional way. We have great respect for the universities that are in the Mountain West Conference, and they're in a lot of destination cities. It's allowed us to play traditional rivals on a nonconference basis."
That's pretty much what I expected the official party line to be. Nobody at TCU wants to upset folks at the Mountain West Conference office, and they sure don't want the Big 12 to think they're holding their breath, waiting on that knock on the door. That's just not how it is.
But there are several compelling reasons, beyond how good it has become in football, why TCU should be attractive to the Big 12.
First is location. This is a huge metropolitan area, a terrific television market, not to have a representative in the Big 12. A large alumni base is here for every school in the conference's South Division.
Then there's the recruiting. The Metroplex is a hotbed of talent, and adding TCU would give other conference teams regular appearances in front of their fans and potential recruits here.
The Frogs have built their fan base to 33,000-plus for games at Amon G. Carter Stadium. There's no reason to think it might not jump another 15,000-20,000 -- with stadium expansion -- simply by drawing fans regularly from Texas, OU, Tech, Texas A&M and Baylor.
Of course, there's a reason that the Big 12 stopped at 12 teams in the first place. Twelve is the magic number that allows a conference to stage a conference championship. That has dollar ramifications, of course.
Some would argue that that also has negative implications for a national championship, because it arguably pits the conference's two best teams in a late-season showdown, and somebody's going to lose.
But so far, money has consistently trumped that argument.
And that's the real problem here. In my dream, the fist is poised in front of a bright purple door.
The Big 12 would rather keep knocking on a green one, a door that, not so coincidentally, is the color of money.
And, Sooners v. Hurricanes …
It all started on Oct. 19, 1985, when Miami went into Norman and pulled off a 27-14 victory, one that has some parallels to the matchup this week. The Hurricanes were unranked then, like they are now. Oklahoma was No. 3; this year's Sooners are No. 5.
Johnson's players were confident going into that game. He wasn't.
"I was scared to death," Johnson acknowledged.
Oklahoma quarterback Troy Aikman suffered a broken leg on a tackle by Brown in that 1985 matchup, forcing Switzer to turn to Holieway. The freshman was no match for Miami's Vinny Testaverde and his three touchdowns, and the Hurricanes left Oklahoma with a win that vaulted them back into the national rankings.
"When Miami left town, our coaches brought a scouting report to me that they left in the room," Switzer said this week, recalling a story while on a call to promote Fox's NFL studio show with Johnson and Aikman. "And on there, the first thing they had to do to win the game was hurt Troy Aikman. That was a part of their game plan!"
"We didn't play that way," Johnson insisted.
"Well, they were coachable," Aikman quipped.
But Oklahoma won the national championship that season after knocking off Penn State 25-10 in the Orange Bowl. Still armed with the nation's No. 1 ranking, Switzer brought the Sooners back into Miami's home stadium to meet the Hurricanes again on Sept. 27, 1986.
Bosworth -- now a real estate agent in Malibu, Ca. -- entered that game vowing a different outcome. He was wrong. Testaverde accounted for four touchdowns this time and Miami prevailed 28-16, its students singing "Bye, bye, Brian" as the game wore on.
Round 3 came Jan. 1, 1988, back in the Orange Bowl, undefeated and top-ranked Oklahoma against undefeated and No. 2 Miami for the national championship.
"Game of the century," pundits wrote. The Sooners and Hurricanes didn't disappoint on that count, either.
Oklahoma pulled off the "fumblerooski" with 2:05 left when guard Mark Hutson picked up the ball center Bob Latham left on the ground and rumbled 29 yards for a touchdown to create some angst, but the Hurricanes held on, 20-14, behind two touchdown passes from Steve Walsh.
That night, after being carried off the field, Johnson called the title "an exorcism."
"We had so many outstanding games against Oklahoma," Johnson said this week. "Our guys got up for it. Our guys were ready to play Oklahoma because that's kind of their deal. We always talked about anytime we had a big game, I would tell them, 'That's why you came to the University of Miami, to be on a national stage."
I doubt you watched this but I have to tell you.......
Roger Federer was freaking sick tonight. Federer is on course for this 10 consecutive major final in a row (previous record was 4), as well as winning the 12th major of his career at 26 (Tiger has 13 at 31).
Roger Federer is every bit as dominate as Woods and Michael Jordan.
At some point you guys should start reporting this, as it is sports news.
Everytime Tiger wins a major you spend two segments talking about how unreal Woods is, and how there is nothing like it in sports.
Eventually you might figure out that Roger Federer is not human either.
Well, I did watch it. And I am amazed at the simplicity of Federer’s greatness. He is simply a cold, calculated machine out there. He may not bleed. But, Tiger? Tiger would have won a French Open by now, right?
All Time Men’s Major Wins …
1 Pete Sampras United States 14 1990-2002 (13)
2 Roy Emerson Australia 12 1961-1967 (7)
3 Roger Federer Switzerland 11 2003-2007 (5)
= Björn Borg Sweden 11 1974-1981 (8)
= Rod Laver Australia 11 1960-1969 (10)
6 William Tilden United States 10 1920-1930 (11)
7 Fred Perry United Kingdom 8 1933-1936 (4)
= Andre Agassi United States 8 1992-2003 (12)
= Jimmy Connors United States 8 1974-1983 (10)
= Ken Rosewall Australia 8 1953-1972 (20)
= Ivan Lendl Czechoslovakia 8 1984-1990 (7)
And since this is the day of a very rare tennis mention on the blog, and since I ran on the treadmill last night while Venus was winning her spot in the women’s final 4, let’s keep going.
Venus winning gives us the chance to get a Williams sister in the Final at Flushing Meadows for the first time since 2002. As you can see, it was a virtual certainty in the 5 years prior to that.
This seems to coincide with the period of time when I used to watch the US Open much closer. I cannot say I have seen much since 2002, which also explains my ignoring of Federer…
US Open Women’s Final since 1995 …
7-6, 0-6, 6-3
Dear Bob & Dan,
A couple of months ago you did an interview with “Boston Rob” Mariano, formerly of the reality TV show, Survivor. He was in town pitching his new upcoming reality show, Tontine.
All we know about Tontine at this point is that there will be 15 contestants that will compete for 10 MILLION DOLLARS (in my deep announcer voice) in a “Survivor” meets “Amazing Race” meets “Fear Factor” reality show to take place on all 7 continents over 100 days. (Thus, Tontine can scoreboard all the other shows with the biggest payout, taking place in more places, and lasting longer. Wouldn’t we all
like to claim as much?)
On a lark, I went to the contestant screening which started here in Dallas the day
after your interview. (Hey, it is $10 million.) And it was only 2 miles from my house. If I am ever going to do something like this, now was the time. The nationwide screening tour ended recently in San Diego.
To my point…
Two weeks ago, to my surprise, I was selected (along with what appears to be 150 hopefuls/suckers) to proceed to the second round of the contestant selection process. During this second round, we were instructed to record a video that:
1) was a show & tell about ourselves, and (can you say “boring”)
2) creatively demonstrated the premise of Tontine (A difficult task being that even we, the potential contestants, are in the dark as too what we will be doing on the show.)
Everyone uploaded videos to youtube.com. Most suck. A few are pretty entertaining. I think I did a fair job---on 5 days notice---and with no experience.
You know Bob, being forced to show & tell one’s self is tough. If you brag too much you seem arrogant. BUT, if you don’t sell yourself, you may not garner attention. What a dilemma.
Here is link to my video. By the way, I am sure my video is the only one that mentions Bad Radio. If I were not a devoted listener to your show, I would never have even known about Tontine, and cold not have won the 10 MILLION DOLLARS!!!
BUT…I am getting ahead of myself. First, I would like to win the $10 Thousand dollars for uploading the best personal Tontine Audition video. The winning video will be determined by an independent panel, WHICH will also take into consideration it’s YouTube viewer rating.
Help me out. I have devoted countless hours to you (and Dan) as I hang on your every word. Can you give me a lil exposure to the P1 to see that Texas is represented by a P1 on Tontine. (Subtle selfless promotion.)
BTW, as soon as I uploaded my video, other contestants began poo-pooing it by giving in a 1-star rating—hoping to bury it in search results. The politics have already began and we haven’t even been selected yet.
(It would be helpful to look as 3-4 other contestant videos---to have something to compare mine to. Hey, it’s not Sopranos.)
P.S. stay with the video. There are several payoffs bits, some Ticket related…which leads me to P.S.S.
P.S.S. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a P1 “plant” traveling with these 14 other contestants and each week have an over/under bet as to where or not I could get a single Ticket “phrase” or “bit” past editing---and on the final network broadcast. (And thus we could all get a giggle as if we just outsmarted the man.)
I appreciate you all!
The Entertaining Entertainer