Welcome to Super Bowl XLIII, as Tampa is back in the mix for the first time since Super Bowl XXXV, when Ray Lewis and the Ravens knocked those New York Giants around the ball yard.
I have never spent any time in this city, so I don’t really have my bearings, but the truth is this: In any of these Super Bowl cities, we spend 80% of our time in the same convention centers that every city has. I am not here to complain, but the truth is we could be in Jacksonville, Detroit, San Diego, or Tampa, and chances are we will still be in a large convention hall surrounded by dozens of other radio stations who will all do as we do: blab on and on about whatever.
It is what it is…It is fun, it is repetitive. It is the Super Bowl.
So, on an airplane that had Norm Hitzges, Gil Brandt, Michael Irvin (followed by Barry Horn who was covering Irvin sitting on an airplane having a bag of peanuts – he said it went very well, to the shock of us all), and our old pals Ben and Skin, we had enough radio blowhards to fill a city.
Because of that, it sounds like we missed one heck of a Mavs game …
They fell behind by 31 points in the second quarter and played such uninspired basketball that a national ABC audience had to be switching to the Winter X Games before halftime. Or maybe a televised chess match, which would have been more gripping.
The Mavericks looked as if they were content to take a 2-2 trip back home. They won a tight game at Philadelphia to start the journey a week ago and had a huge win at Detroit.
The other two stops might as well be wiped from their memory. They lost by a combined 58 points at Milwaukee and Boston.
"I don't think they're 40 points better than us," said Dirk Nowitzki. "We have to chalk this one up to a bad game. But that's this league – you win some big games, and you have some disappointing losses."
The Mavericks arrived for the afternoon game with no staying power. They trailed, 15-14, with 4:44 left in the first quarter, then got outscored, 12-0. The Celtics' lead never dropped below 10 and topped out at 84-49.
"We wanted to go undefeated," Jason Terry said of the road trip, "but that's two games where we didn't follow the game plan, and if we're going to be a good team, we can't let that happen."
Defensively, the Mavericks were poor. Combined with an uncanny shooting game by the Celtics, particularly in the first half, it was an ugly scene.
The Celtics shot 65 percent in the half, including 8-of-9 from the field by Ray Allen, who had 20 points in the half and 23 for the game. Kevin Garnett and Eddie House also had 23.
"I wasn't happy with the defense," coach Rick Carlisle said. "When the shots weren't going early, it affected us defensively, and we've got to fight against that. It's disappointing, but you learn from it and take something from it."
Mike Bacsik is back with more:
Will the Mavs finish in LAST place?
Last place in the NBA isn't the worst record. Last place in the NBA is the team with the best record not to make the playoffs. There can be some exceptions, like 2 years ago when the Hornets just missed the playoffs in Chris Paul's 2nd year. They were building a winner and the arrow was pointing up. The worst record will get a pick in the top 4. And if there is only one constant in sports, it is that a NBA championship is won by superstars, not 5 pretty good players. A top pick can land a team a superstar. The last pick(14th) in the lottery won't.
The 2008-09 Dallas Mavericks look like they will be the 9th place team in the West. Do you believe this Mavs team will get better or worse after the all-star break? All indications point towards a Dallas Cowboys December collapse for these Mavs in March and April. The problem with just being bad enough to miss the playoffs but good enough to beat the doormats is that you usually can't get better through your draft pick. The Mavs will most likely have the 14th pick. What has the 14th pick produced the last 5 years? '04 Kris Humphries, '05 Rashad McCants. '06 Ronnie Brewer, '07 Al Thornton, '08 Anthony Randolph. No all-stars, no true difference makers and the end of the lottery.
The Mavs have very little to look forward to. There is no young star ready to emerge on this roster. The Thunder have Durant, Green, and Westbrook. The Grizzlies have Mayo, Gay and Conley. The 1st pick this year will get the stud from OU, Blake Griffin. The Mavs are one of the older teams in the NBA. Kidd, Terry, Dirk, Damp are all over 30. Howard is 28 and is regressing on the court. Not to mention his off the court problems in the past. The other players on the Mavs could be replaced without anybody noticing a difference in team success or failure.
Everybody who looking forward to the 2010 free agency period, stop dreaming! Why would a top free agent want to come to a team with an ageing star in Dirk, no solid role players, an organization that has never won a championship, and no draft pick in 2010 to help? Mark Cuban has said he never wants the Mavs to be a middle of the road team. He doesn't want a team that hangs around the 40 win mark and has no future of winning a championship or no way to win the lottery and get the next Duncan or Shaq. Cuban now has a team that is middle of the road, a team that will fight for 8th place in the West after finishing 7th last year. He has an old team with no young studs. Will Mark Cuban stay true to his word and drastically change this team or will he spin the truth and sell a bad product like the other Dallas high priced owner/bad parole officer does?
Goose ponders whether Warner is in the HOF …
Eleven Hall of Fame quarterbacks have combined to win 23 of the 42 Super Bowls. Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana won four apiece, Troy Aikman three and John Elway, Bob Griese, Bart Starr and Roger Staubach two.
Historically, if you win two Super Bowls you can book passage to Canton. Only two quarterbacks who have won multi-Super Bowls are not enshrined – Tom Brady, who is not yet eligible, and Jim Plunkett.
Kurt Warner could join that group of multi-Super Bowl winners Sunday, when his Arizona Cardinals play the Pittsburgh Steelers. He won his first Super Bowl as quarterback of the St. Louis Rams after the 1999 season.
Brady will one day be enshrined, but there's no guarantee with Plunkett. He re-invented himself with the Raiders in winning those two Super Bowls. But he never even went to a Pro Bowl in his 16-year career.
Warner twice has been the best quarterback in the league, winning NFL MVP honors in 1999 and 2001 with the Rams. That alone makes him a Hall of Fame candidate. The path Warner has taken to championships would enhance both his legacy and candidacy.
Warner took the worst NFL franchise of the 1990s to a Super Bowl in 1999 and the worst franchise in NFL history to a Super Bowl this season.
The Rams owned a 45-99 record in the 1990s with six last-place finishes when Warner became the quarterback in 1999. St. Louis won it all that year.
The Cardinals won only two playoff games and two NFL titles in the first 87 years of franchise history. No team had a longer championship drought than the Cardinals at 60 years. This franchise hadn't won a playoff game since 1998 or a division title since 1975. Thanks to Warner, Arizona finds itself playing for an NFL title Sunday.
This morning, I watched the Senior Bowl, finally. I will leave it to the National Football Post to cover it fully ...But, Harrell did not look the part...
The play of QB Pat White is going to force scouts to take a closer look at him as a quarterback. He isn’t your prototypical pocket passer, but he creates plays on the move and has the arm strength to make all the throws. The kid wants to play QB at the next level, and I think the team that drafts him will need to force White to prove he isn’t an NFL-caliber signal caller before they move him to WR. He’s the type of athlete that can add a throwing dimension to the “wildcat” formations of the NFL.
The other quarterbacks had their moments, but Texas Tech product Graham Harrell really struggled. He lacks arm strength and seems to be a bit scheme limited at the next level. However, don’t count him out by any stretch. If he finds the right kind of offense (west coast scheme), I believe he can not only play, but will play well at the next level.
Small schools quarterbacks Nathan Brown and Rhett Bomar ran hot and cold, but there’s definite potential there. Bomar has a big arm and is a good athlete, but concerns about his accuracy linger. He has never completed more the 59 percent of his passes in a college year and needs to improve his timing in the short-area passing game. Brown, on the other hand, simply needs time to adjust to the next level. He was the only QB all week to consistently stick the deep out and displays the timing and anticipation skills to make scouts wonder just how high his ceiling is. He’s only 6-1 and has a lower than ideal release, and his passes wobble a bit down the field, but he flashes NFL-caliber talent. Brown intrigues me and would definitely be worth a mid-round pick to see how far he can develop.
What cities love the NHL the most? …
HBO debuts free boxing …as Sugar Shane beat Margarito silly…
With the sport of boxing and the U.S. economy both taking a beating, HBO is shifting its strategy and relocating many of its big fights from pay-per-view (PPV) to its network.
HBO Sports chief Ross Greenburg hopes the move to make more top-tier fights available to HBO customers will infuse some life into the sport.
"The sport needs more eyeballs," he says. "It's ironic, but while in bad times you'd expect the sport to suffer, it could actually trigger the opposite effect."
In 2008, HBO Pay Per View offered eight events, bringing in $190 million in revenue based on 3.7 million buys.
But as the economy worsened, buy rates began to drop. Even midsize events that were projected at 300,000 buys were dipping below 200,000. A big December fight between PPV king Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao did garner nearly 1.3 million buys, but sponsor rebates may have padded that figure.
HBO's shift means satellite and cable providers will have fewer pay-per-view boxing events in 2009. The network probably won't do its first PPV bout until May, a proposed fight between fan-favorites Ricky Hatton and Pacquiao. By May of last year, HBO had already done four events.
"It's tough to get people excited about dishing out 50 bucks every month in this economy," Greenburg says. "Everyone overreached in 2008; there were too many pay-per-view events."
The first example of HBO's strategy is its World Championship Boxing airing of the Jan. 24 bout between "Sugar" Shane Mosley and Antonio Margarito, which Greenburg says would have absolutely been on PPV last year.
Shocker of my weekend? Finding out Dexter married his sister …
Email of the Weekend (from one of the great emailers of this blog’s history)
By signing on with the new Irvin-produced American Football Idol, Jerry Jones has completed his metamorphosis into P.T. Barnum presiding over the three-ring circus that is the Dallas Cowboys. Seriously, what does Ringling Brothers have that the Cowboys don’t? We’ve got clowns, fat men, strong men, a red-headed geek, a guy who can catch 6 footballs at once. And now we’ll have Michael Irvin and Dieon Sanders bringing their big bag of distraction and “look at me” attitude to a Cowboy training camp that is already chock full of distractions and “look at me” attitudes.
Once again, you only have to ask ‘What would New England do?’ to know whether this is a good idea or not. Would New England sign up with this show? No, of course not, especially if the Patriots were coming off as disastrous and distraction-filled a season as Dallas, which of course they would never experience because they are New England and don’t permit distractions.
Dave in Tulsa
Speaking of Irvin, a Super Bowl classic from Detroit:
rangers batting stances