Thursday, January 31, 2008

Super Bowl XLII - Day 4

Thursday come, and just about ready to go home…

Tonight, a few of us will mix in some basketball. Suns and Spurs. Which team would I rather see lose more? Hmmm.

Anyway, more football for you to consider today:

Tom Brady doesn’t seem too concerned with Plaxico’s prediction


Just 17 points for the potent Patriots.

A certain MVP quarterback thinks that's a Super-sized diss.

Tom Brady scoffed when told Wednesday that New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress guaranteed New York will beat Brady's undefeated New England team in Sunday's Super Bowl.

"We're only going to score 17 points?" Brady said before chuckling about it. "OK. Is Plax playing defense? I wish he had said 45-42 and gave us a little credit for scoring more points."

Considering the Patriots set an NFL record by scoring 589 points, Brady's 50 touchdown passes were the most ever for one season, and Randy Moss broke Jerry Rice's mark with 23 TD catches, Burress might have been a bit chintzy.

The last time the Patriots played the Giants, in the season finale, New England rallied from 12 points down in the third quarter to win 38-35. The Patriots have not scored fewer than 20 points in their 18 victories, and the last time they put up only 17 was Dec. 10, 2006 -- a 21-0 loss at Miami in their last regular-season defeat.

Even if the Giants' defense performs at its peak, it's still doubtful New England will score only 17 points.

"I know they have confidence. They should have confidence," Brady said. "They are the NFC champions.

"I learned a lesson early in my career: No matter what you say during the week -- and God knows we say a lot this week -- we're going to be focused on going out and winning this game. We're confident, but I don't think we share our thoughts with everybody."

Where does Brady rate amongst the greats already?

Tom Brady's charge up the list of all-time great NFL quarterbacks will only accelerate if his New England Patriots prevail in Super Bowl XLII.

Already a three-time Super Bowl champion, Brady is coming off the finest regular season an NFL quarterback has ever enjoyed, whether measured by won-lost record or overall statistics.

The debate about which quarterback ranks No. 1 in NFL history might one day begin and end with Brady, but we're not to that point -- yet.

While seven seasoned evaluators placed Brady solidly in the top 10, Johnny Unitas consistently ranked higher than any other quarterback.

Joe Montana was second, followed by Brady, Dan Marino, Peyton Manning, John Elway, Terry Bradshaw, Brett Favre, Otto Graham and Dan Fouts.

"To try to say who was the greatest would be an injustice to so many others," said Marv Levy, the former Buffalo Bills coach who recently retired from his position as the team's general manager.

Levy, Art Rooney Jr., Ken Meyer, Zeke Bratkowski, Dick Haley, Larry Kennan and James Harris have been watching, coaching or playing quarterback at the college and pro levels for a combined 321 years heading into 2008.

Their insights helped produce a top 10 list for the ages, even as panelists struggled to single out just 10 from a long list of strong candidates.

"My top 10 might be turning into a top 20," said Haley, a New York Jets personnel consultant and former NFL defensive back with more than 40 years of scouting experience, including a 20-year stretch with the Pittsburgh Steelers that began in 1971.

Troy Aikman, Sammy Baugh, Norm Van Brocklin, Bart Starr and Bobby Layne received top-five votes from individual panelists without gaining enough traction to finish among the top 10. Joe Namath, Steve Young and Sid Luckman each drew more than one top-10 vote.

Leaving off Aikman seemed particularly difficult given his overall skills and championship success. But some panelists felt Graham needed to be on the list because he was so far ahead of his time (in addition to his seven championships in 10 seasons from 1946 to 1955). Fouts also commanded considerable respect, not only for production but for the all-out manner in which he attacked the game.

"It's unfair to name the best because some other guys were just as good in their own situations," said Bratkowski, a former All-American quarterback at Georgia who played under George Halas and Vince Lombardi in the NFL.

Peter King expects Eli to step up

When I hear people talk about this game, one of the things I invariably hear -- fairly -- is that Brady's big-game experience gives him an edge over Manning, a rookie in this game and a guy who, until a month ago, was in a very bad slump. I agree Brady will play big Sunday in Super Bowl 42. But I don't agree that the gravity of the moment will get to Manning come Sunday. Dismissively, he said: "I don't think that'll be a problem at all.'' Next question.

I buy it. In SI last week, I quoted Archie Manning talking about his youngest son thusly: "He's not the type of guy, never has been, to say much about anything to people on the outside. Maybe it's because he's the youngest, I don't know. Our son Cooper has a 2-year-old son who's not talking yet, and other day [my wife] Olivia said, 'Well, Eli didn't talk 'til he was 3.' ''

Does that say everything about Eli Manning, or what?

He's come a long way. He's even become a guy to fear in the locker room. In the SI story, Brandon Jacobs said, "I pick up my cell phone one day and go to use it, and somebody's turned the keyboard into Spanish. I can't figure out how to fix it, so I got to one of our [Hispanic] cafeteria guys, and he fixes it. Eli comes up to me a couple of days later and says, 'So, you been practicing your Spanish?' I say, 'It was you, you son of a b----!' ... He keeps us laughing. The people on the outside don't know the real Eli.' ''

"He's doing everything the right way,'' Strahan said.

This game will not be too big for him.

And in other Peter King news, Emmitt is still struggling

I think this was about the dumbest thing I've heard this week so far. When ESPN's Emmitt Smith was asked on TV about Plaxico Burress' prediction of a 23-17 Giants victory, Smith said: "His prediction will get him double-coverage.'' I can only hope Smith either mis-spoke or was somehow exaggerating, because to imagine that the Patriots would be moved to change their defensive plan against Burress because of something he said prior to the game is ridiculous.

Chad Johnson wants out of the Natti

On Tuesday, the Enquirer's Bengals blog linked to an NFL Network clip that featured a brief comment Johnson made about the possibility of joining his hometown Miami Dolphins.

Johnson has boycotted the Cincinnati media since late October.

Reached by The Enquirer on his cell phone in Phoenix, Johnson said: "I haven't spoken to you all year. Why you calling my (expletive) phone? Why you calling my phone?

"I don't care what you heard on the radio."

Here is what Johnson said Wednesday to Rome on the radio:

Question: Do you want to be traded?

Answer: I'm going to leave that to the Shark (Drew Rosenhaus, Johnson's agent).

Q: Are you happy in Cincinnati?

A: I'm not allowed to say. I get the blame; the so-called best player, I'm the problem. Someone in-house is spreading this. Maybe they want me to quiet down (and) stop being me. That is not going to happen. I can't function that way. I tried it. It sucked. There was no excitement.

Q: Can they make it right with you?

A: I think I could be here all season long, on your show.

Q: Is it blown up or fixable?

A: I'm leaving that to Drew. It's been bad (with the Bengals). I'm the scapegoat. A lot of stuff in-house is happening I'm not fond of. It doesn't sit well with me. I have fun. I'm a little outlandish. I produce. I do everything to help us win.

Q: Who does have your back?

A: T.J. (Houshmandzadeh) has my back. Carson (Palmer). That's it. That's really it.
Johnson made similar comments earlier Wednesday with ESPN Radio's Mike Tirico and the NFL Network.

When NFL Network's Rich Eisen asked him to tell him "the State of the Union address of Ocho Cinco," Johnson said: "I'm relaxing, I'm enjoying the offseason now. ...
We're all of the same state of mind, we're all looking for jobs right now."

A laughing Eisen then interrupted him and said, "Wait a minute, wait a minute."
When asked if he were going to have Bengal stripes on next year, Johnson said: "I don't know what I'm going to have on. I'm not sure."

Dozens of big-city radio sports talk shows and the big-time national hosts, such as Rome, broadcast from an area of the Super Bowl media center.

Rosenhaus said Wednesday he would not discuss publicly any of his possible or potential dealings with the Bengals regarding Johnson.

"Obviously, there is a lot of frustration with things that happened last year as it pertains to Chad," Rosenhaus told The Enquirer. "I'm not going to discuss any potential trades."

Meanwhile, The Mavericks with 3 real tough games in a row …starts tonight in Boston…

Staff writer Eddie Sefko evaluates the Mavericks' best advantages and biggest shortcoming against the three Eastern Conference divisional leaders they will see on this road trip.

Boston (tonight)

Advantage: Solid matchups at each position vs. the Celtics' Big Three, including Kevin Garnett.

Shortcoming: Celts' D would snuff out Dirk. Anybody else stepping up?

Detroit (Sunday)

Advantage: Nowitzki always comes up huge against them.

Shortcoming: In a long series, can any Mav stay with Chauncey Billups?

Orlando (Monday)

Advantage: Mavs have the experience of having been to the Finals.

Shortcoming: Magic has Dwight Howard, the new beast of the East.

Meanwhile, what is wrong with the Spurs? Plenty …But here comes Mighty Mouse to save the day…

Tony Parker, scratched from the Spurs' lineup for Tuesday's game against the Seattle SuperSonics, will be on the inactive list for Thursday's game against the Phoenix Suns as well.

How long he remains on the sideline thereafter will be determined when the bone spur on his left heel is evaluated after he undergoes an MRI exam, scheduled for Friday in San Antonio.

The Spurs will return to town from Phoenix for a four-day break before resuming their nine-game road trip that began with Monday's game at Utah.

The bone spur has limited his explosiveness. He scored only four points in Monday's 97-91 loss to the Jazz, missing 6 of 7 shots. He also struggled to stay in front of Utah point guard Deron Williams on defense. That was enough for coach Gregg Popovich to make the determination he needed to sit Parker for a while.

"Tony didn't like it," Popovich said, "but he's been about 60 or 70 percent for about a month. It's not fair to him to ask him to keep going out there when he's the way he is. I want to shut him down for a while and give it a chance to heal."
Help coming? Jacque Vaughn, who started against the Sonics, is the Spurs' only other
true point guard, but help may be on the way.

Aaron Goodwin, the attorney who represents veteran point guard Damon Stoudamire, waived Tuesday morning by the Memphis Grizzlies, said Stoudamire is giving "strong consideration" to signing with the Spurs if he clears waivers on Thursday morning.

If Stoudamire does prefer the Spurs over other teams with which Goodwin has spoken — Phoenix, Dallas and Boston — the Spurs likely will move quickly to sign him.

Goodwin negotiated a buyout of the final two years of Stoudamire's contract with the Grizzlies after it became clear the 13-year veteran would spend the season playing behind both rookie Mike Conley and second-year man Kyle Lowry. The buyout will be effective as soon as he clears waivers, after which he will be able to sign with a team of his choosing.

Goodwin said he had spoken "a few times" with Spurs general manager R.C. Buford about Stoudamire. He said Stoudamire won't seek a multiple-year deal from the team that signs him.

Stoudamire averaged 7.3 points in 29 games with the Grizzlies this season but shot only 39.7 percent, and 38.7 percent from 3-point range. He has been in the league since 1995 and has a career scoring average of 13.8.

Aggies pound Longhorns

Wednesday night was the first time all season that Texas A&M looked like the team Aggies fans expected from the start.

Something about burnt orange just brings out the best in those wearing maroon.

A record crowd of 13,555 fans at Reed Arena watched A&M clobber No. 10 Texas, 80-63. The No. 23 Aggies (17-4, 3-3 Big 12) left no doubt there's plenty of fight in a club many wondered about after its recent three-game skid.

"We just came back and got our confidence back," A&M senior Joseph Jones said. "I think a lot of the guys on the team were down. They hadn't been through a losing stretch before. Guys just came back and got refocused."

Texas, which has lost four straight in College Station, fell to 16-4, 3-2 in the league. As the final seconds ticked off, A&M students let out a cheer directed at UT coach Rick Barnes: "Watermelon, watermelon, watermelon rind. Look at the scoreboard and see who's behind. T.u! t.u!. t.u.!"

"I'm proud of their student body," Barnes said, "because last year, I taught them the cheer, and they carried it out great. ... From that point on, good night for the Aggies."

For the first time in weeks, A&M played to its strengths, using an inside-out game that this team was built for.

Could Bob Kraft please buy Liverpool?

American businessman Robert Kraft admits he has not ruled out a possible takeover of Liverpool.

Kraft owns American football side New England Patriots and Major League Soccer outfit New England Revolution.

And Kraft - who is founder, chairman and chief executive of the Kraft Group - was strongly linked with a bid to buy the Reds before the Merseyside club was taken over by fellow Americans George Gillett and Tom Hicks for £470million in 2007.

However, Gillett and Hicks are rumoured to be unsettled on Merseyside following Liverpool's lacklustre form and a much publicised bust-up with manager Rafa Benitez regarding the club's January transfer policy.

Dubai International Capital are thought to remain interested in a bid to buy out Gillett and Hicks, after withdrawing from the race to own the Reds last year, and Kraft has now hinted that he could also consider a takeover at Anfield.

"We haven't ruled it out completely," Kraft told Sky Sports News.

"But I'm worried a little bit. I want to be able to win whatever we do. But there are no rules in terms of spending on players.

"We would never want to be in a business where we couldn't compete and right now some of the structure doesn't allow you to compete on a level playing field."

Two things on yesterday’s show that I said were controversy starters.

#1 was my claim that I would not consider sending Barber, #22, and #28 to Miami to simply grab Darren McFadden. I think the price is way too high, and here is one of the email I got on this topic, but I received several:

Dear sports Sturm,

This is in ref to your conversation concerning the trade rumor between Miami and Dallas to get Darren McFadden. I defer to you sports Sturm on 99% of sports topics however I gegree with little Mac on this one. I have watched him(McFadden) play almost every game since his freshman year and even when he was a freshman I was amazed at his vision ,moves and of course speed. This combined with his size 6’2” 225lbs and he is a freak. Please take a few moments out of your busy sports day and Tivo schedule to watch a few of his highlight videos.


I have watched him plenty, and I know McFadden looks awesome. Here are some examples of his highlight films:

I think you have to think about the type of cost here. Barber is a starter, and a good one at that who is a Pro Bowler already. #22 and #28 should both be quality skill players at RB, WR, or CB. Don’t forget this is a deep RB draft, too.

Also, consider the contract that is given to #1 picks overall. Huge money. $40 million! To a guy who is a RB and could easily be Curtis Enis or Ki Jana Carter (sorry Penn State fans). I like the kid. I don’t like the trade.

#2 – We had the great Adrian Peterson on the show. I am a huge fan even though I have never cared much for Oklahoma, and always loathed the Vikes. But, he is amazing. Anyway, I claimed that he owned Texas at OU, and although that is true his freshman year, I was obviously caught up in the moment, because he actually only went 1-2 versus Texas. So, forgive me Longhorns. I have sinned against thee. He is no Cedric Benson, and I won’t mess that up again.

Lost is back tonight, although I won’t be watching it until Friday night…


BACM said...

What no Aggy has come forth to comment? Surely this is your equivalent to winning the "Super Bowl" and the "World Cup".

Does Gillespie get the credit this time as well?

Jay said...

Sturm, I agree with your McFadden sports point.

There's no doubt McFadden is a great collegiate player. There is doubt as to a) how he'll transition to the NFL and b) how much he's worth giving up.

Is he worth 10 first round picks? Of course not. Well then what is he worth? I think MB3 and 1 #1 would be tempting but a) I don't think any team would do that and b) you're still putting your eggs in one basket.

Spending a #1 on a Felix Jones type pick a) is less risky b) cheaper c) diversifies your RB spot. If Felix gets hurt we have MB3. If MB3 gets hurt we still have a quality RB. And d) we still have a #1 for a CB (please!!!) or WR.

It's tempting and MB3's stock is mega high but unless MB3's going to cost a crazy amount to resign I wouldn't consider it.

Jon M said...

Did Mr Kraft just say that he is worried that Liverpool can't compete financially because there is no salary cap? Has Hicks damaged Liverpool that much, or is Mr Kraft just a salary cap genius.

Maybe Liverpool needs Jerry....