Friday, November 30, 2007

Week 13: Cowboys 37, Packers 27 (11-1)

Let there be no question who the heavyweight of the NFC is. If that wasn’t convincing enough for you, I don’t know what would be. In a Name-Your-Score performance from the offense, in which they scored 37 and left nearly 20 more points on the field, and a dominating effort from the defense, in which a legendary QB was first battered and then knocked out, The Dallas Cowboys staked claim to the entire conference and demanded that any team that wishes to change that better prepare to do so in Irving, Texas.

Green Bay has been a nice story. And, it is quite likely that they will be guests here again, but even the most optimistic of Packer fans (I wish I knew one) cannot like the chances of next time being any different. There were a number of talking points, and a number of crazy instances, many of which will be covered in today’s notes and observations from a pounding of the Packers:

• Tony Romo continues to show that nothing seems to rattle him. Surely, something must affect this kid, right? He looks so mature beyond his years that is makes you shake your head. The relative ease that was evident as he operated last night was shocking. Give his offensive line tons of credit for making sure he could comfortably sit there and pick apart the secondary, but then Romo has to make the decision and then execute the throw. And wow, did he. He had 4 Touchdowns, and actually had 5 (Sorry, but that Terrell Owens drop should not be held against Romo, but somehow he gets an interception on his ledger). I will not question his composure and his nerves until he has to play in his first Super Bowl – which I will predict hits in roughly 8 weeks. To think that some wondered how his head would be around Brett Favre….

• Speaking of Favre, what was that? The beauty of the Brett Favre story is that as great as he is, he can, without warning, play like that. Think about Owens. No matter how great he is, he can still drop a sure Touchdown. That is Favre’s game in a nutshell. But, my gripes from last night are both with his performance, and the Green Bay Coaches’ game plan. If you have watched the Packers all season, you know that they do not throw the indiscriminate deep ball over and over. They throw it as a knockout blow after softening up the opponent with a series of short and intermediate passes. But, yesterday, Favre and the Packers tried to throw deep pass after deep pass regardless of the Cowboys coverage. This, of course, is a poor idea for a number of reasons. 1) it is all or nothing. If you don’t hit on it, your drive is likely over. 2) it risks turnovers in a game where turnovers will decide it, and 3) it risks your QB to huge punishment. Short routes keep your QB on his feet, deep routes require the QB to take a hit to make the throw. I must believe these were not all Favre audibles. Something tells me that Mike McCarthy was exposed a bit as a young coach who has never been in a huge showdown game like this.

• Which leads us to Wade Phillips, Brian Stewart, and the Cowboys defense; Wow. The coverage was tight, and the pressure was phenomenal. When you get to the QB, he makes bad decisions. I honestly didn’t think the Cowboys were going to get to Favre, because most of the Packers schedule wasn’t able to get consistent pressure on Favre. But, perhaps you give credit to the Wade Phillips scheme, or perhaps just to each Cowboys defender defeating the guy in front of him. Whatever it was, they dominated the line of scrimmage and battered Favre in basically one quarter.

• Miles Austin gets credit on the score-sheet as 0 catches for 0 yards. But, wow, did he make a difference. Between drawing a 40 yard Pass interference and a 42 yard Pass interference and then his phenomenal kick returning all night in which he looked like he was a Mason Crosby tackle away from a Touchdown, I would say that Austin did his job at a very high level. In a completely unrelated thought, I still believe that the maximum yardage for pass interference must be 15 yards. The call is not reviewable and too subjective to award that many yards to the offended party.

• So, who had the most absurd hit last night, Roy Williams on Ryan Grant, Nate Jones on Favre, or Keith Davis on Tramon Williams. All were impressive shots that left the Packers hurting

• You know you have tough fans to impress when you are up 27-17 at the half, and some of your fans are booing the taking of a knee. Tough crowd.

• Speaking of the tough crowd, why would so many Cowboys fans sell their tickets to Green Bay fans? Seriously. I know I may have an affiliation that makes my comment curious, but the whole point of “Home Field Advantage” is that THEIR fans cannot get into YOUR stadium. Remember, “we must protect this house”. I think the team is doing a pretty nice job of that, but are the fans? It is surely impressive that they can travel that well, but they get their tickets from somewhere.

• I was pretty impressed with Aaron Rodgers, but isn’t it a bit cheesy to go get your first Touchdown ball yourself? After Greg Jennings celebrated, Rodgers didn’t go hug him, he ran by him to go get the ball. Weird.

• Leonard Davis is a devastating blocker. He pushed big Ryan Pickett out of the way to form a hole so big the Queen Mary would have fit, as Marion Barber rolled through for a 15 yard gain.

• Terrell Owens is tough to figure. He was so great for another week, and had 147 yards at the half. I am quite sure if they had to score in the 2nd half, he could have racked up 250 without problem. How do I explain his drops? I don’t. I guess it is part of the bargain with him. But, like I said before the game, the real difference between these two teams is that one has an unstoppable playmaker on offense, and the other doesn’t. In short, you have Owens, and they don’t. That is why I think the Cowboys are going to Super Bowl 42.

• Did the refs really need the Cold-Weather pants?

• So, it appears not all long-haired, Ohio State linebackers are struggling. AJ Hawk looks like he can play in this league, if last night was any indication.

• Would Charles Woodson, KGB, and Favre made a difference? Doubtful. In fact, the Packers settled down when Favre left. You would like to think the pass rush of the Packers would be much different if KGB was there, but we might need to accept that the Cowboys offensive line is really good. Aaron Kampman was pretty quiet.

• DeMarcus Ware is unstoppable. Jason Witten is unstoppable. Tony Romo is unstoppable. And Eli Manning is not unstoppable.

• To me, it sure looked like 1993-1995 all over again with the Packers at Texas Stadium. Favre makes over-eager decisions that end up cutting Green Bay’s throat. The Packers defense cannot slow the Cowboys offense, and at the end of the game, the Cowboys win by double digits.

• Now, with a long weekend, it is time for the stretch run. The Cowboys have the whole table set right in front of them. No mistakes, and the playoffs set up perfectly. The dream season is alive in Dallas.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Jedi vs. Jedi Master

OK. Got a very busy day, and the blog may suffer a bit. If you need to read more about the Dallas Stars lose to New Jersey or the Mavs unimpressive win against Minnesota, I hope you know where to look. This blog shall serve you with a few reading tools for tonight’s game of the century…

First, thoughts on the game. Having seen every down of each team this season, I can tell you that I think I know these two teams like the back of my hand. I know the Cowboys can be thrown upon, and I know the Packers cannot cover a Tight End. I know that nobody has covered Terrell Owens yet, and no pass rush has really rattled Green Bay yet. I know that Tony Romo can throw the odd interception in a random spot, and Brett Favre made that throw famous. I know that DeMarcus Ware is awesome, and that Aaron Kampman isn’t far behind.

Here is my take. Green Bay is really good. But the game is in Dallas. Dallas has dominated teams, while the Packers have won several games where I wondered how the heck they just won that game. Neither team is going to impress you with their schedule, but that is more a reflection of the NFC.

Green Bay is 3-0 against the NFC East. (Winning at New York)

Green Bay is 3-0 against the AFC. (Beating San Diego, at Denver and at Kansas City)

Dallas is 2-0 against the NFC North (Winning at Chicago)

Dallas is 3-1 against the AFC, losing to arguably one of the best teams of all time.
I am going to adjust my score just a tad, because I don’t think either team is going to be able to mix in very many stops.

Give me Dallas 35, Green Bay 31. This is going to be awesome.

Romo and Favre. Favre and Romo.

To Romo, tonight's meeting at Texas Stadium between the Cowboys and Green Bay Packers is about NFC supremacy and home-field advantage in the playoffs. So the kid from Burlington, Wis., did his best to downplay the Favre idolization story line during the week.

"I know what you're trying to get at," said Romo, who watched from a buddy's house when the Packers beat New England in Super Bowl XXXI.

"I understand the angle, and it's nice and fun, but I have to beat the guy this week. At the end of the day, I don't want him to pass for 365 yards against us. That's the bottom line. I'll root for him on every other game."

Jason Witten, who has worked Romo's football camps in Burlington during the off-season, and Steve Tenhagen, Romo's favorite receiver from youth football, know better.

"The truth is, he loved him," Witten said.

Said Tenhagen: "He's got a whole lot of people believing he's not much of a fan. I think he's doing a good job of downplaying the situation."

Romo met Favre two years ago at the Packers quarterback's golf tournament in Tunica, Miss., thanks to former Cowboys teammate Marco Rivera, who played with Favre in Green Bay.

"Brett came over, and I introduced him to everybody at the table, and Tony's like, 'Hey, Brett, nice to meet you,' playing it off," Rivera said. "I was thinking to myself, 'Oh, if he could jump across this table.' "

The way Romo tells it – at least this week – he was more of a John Elway fan when he was younger, even rooting for Denver to win Super Bowl XXXII against Favre's Packers because he is a traditionalist.

"I want someone who's been a legend to go out on top," Romo said. That's why the Cowboys' January playoff loss at Seattle was so painful because it was the final game coached by Bill Parcells. "That part of me has held true in some ways," Romo said.

And there is this – Romo wore No. 16 at Burlington High School because of Joe Montana.

But don't be fooled. There is plenty of Favre in Romo.

In high school, Romo would jump up and fake a pass after a handoff, just like Favre used to do. When his coach asked him what he was doing, Romo smiled the same wide grin he shows on the field now.

When Rivera joined the Cowboys in 2005, he immediately took a liking to Romo. Part of it was the way he reminded him of Favre. Before one practice, Rivera unknowingly stuffed a No. 4 jersey in Romo's helmet to wear as revenge for Romo putting some Flexall 454 pain-relieving gel in his shorts. And Rivera made sure NBC knew of Romo's Favre imitation before his first start at Carolina last year.

"He knows Brett," Rivera said. "He knows his stats. He knows all about him. Any young quarterback in Wisconsin in high school, who are you going to watch?"
And then there's Favre's pigeon-toed walk, which Romo broke out briefly in Monday's practice.

"You know he's spent a lot of time watching him if he's got that down," Witten said.
The quarterbacks are separated by 11 years (38 to 27), but both are 6-2, and Romo is two pounds heavier than the 222-pound Favre.

"I think he's his own player," Favre said. "I think the fact that he's from Wisconsin and is younger than me and watched me play and was a Packer fan enhances this whole scenario. But I think in a nutshell his creativity with his legs is what – when I see him play – reminds me of myself. It's making something out of nothing."
Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones remembers watching practices well before Romo became the starter and hearing Favre comparisons from scouts and coaches.

"Because he had a lot of impromptu about him," Jones said. "Our defensive coaches would complain because he would run our scout team, and he'd be out there making plays up and down the field, throwing back across the defense or doing things that where, somewhere in the back of your mind, you'd seen Brett make a play like that."
Romo has certainly had his share of Favre-like moments since becoming the Cowboys' starter, even plenty this year. He had his in-the-grasp fling for a touchdown at Miami, the last-second heave after it looked like he was going down at the New York Giants, and his 4-yard first-down run after a shotgun snap sailed over his head.
And, like Favre, Romo has had his share of crazy mistakes, such as the five-interception game in Buffalo this season.

"When a play kind of presents yourself, you have got to make a decision and you have to make it quick," Favre said. "His decision is, 'There is something else left on this play.' I like that about [him]."

Gosselin on the Gunslinger …click to link to read it all, it is worth it…

One plays his pro football in Wisconsin; the other grew up watching him.

The styles of quarterbacks Brett Favre and Tony Romo are matching, separated by 11 calendar years and 14 seasons of NFL starting experience. Is it osmosis?

Both pride themselves on their gunslinger mentality – a fearless streak that has powered their teams to 10-1 starts. They will match arms and styles in the parallel quest for victory No. 11 tonight when Favre's Green Bay Packers visit Romo's Cowboys.

Unpredictable, unorthodox and spectacular all apply in describing the play of Favre and Romo this and any season.

But it's not fair to compare a 2007 Favre with a 2007 Romo.

Favre is the winningest, most prolific, most durable quarterback in NFL history. He has won a record three NFL MVP awards and a Super Bowl. Favre is what Romo – or any young quarterback – aspires to be.

So let's study the career paths of both quarterbacks. Romo is in his second season as an NFL starter. Let's go all the way back to Favre's second season as a starter in 1993 and draw the comparison there.

I sought out three men who saw Favre play in 1993 and Romo in 2007 – an NFL general manager, a head coach and a talent evaluator – and asked them to compare the quarterbacks at the same stage of their careers. They spoke on condition of anonymity.

Both quarterbacks elevated their games to the highest of heights in their second seasons as starters – but also visited the depths.

Favre passed for 402 yards in a 1993 game against Chicago and four touchdowns against Tampa Bay. But he also threw four interceptions in a game against Detroit and was sacked six times by New Orleans. Romo passed for 345 yards against the Giants this season and tossed four touchdown passes against two other opponents. But he also endured a five-interception flat tire against Buffalo.

Whether Romo plays 17 seasons, wins 157 games and passes for 60,000 yards and 400 touchdowns like Favre remains to be seen. But Favre had it – whatever it is – and apparently so does Romo.

"Romo does some things you can coach and also some things you can't coach against," the general manager said. "That's a hard combination to play [against]. He also has something few of them have – the guys around him believe in him. That makes you a lot better."

Great Scouting tid bits from the Milwaukee Paper


HARD TO STOP: LB DeMarcus Ware will rush most of the time against Chad Clifton, both from two- and three-point stances. "Not many people can consistently beat Chad Clifton but he will challenge Clifton," an executive in personnel for a recent Cowboys' opponent said. "He can get to your up-field arm and accelerate as he makes his move, separating from the blocker rather than continue on upfield. If you study him, he's got great slip skill. He can slip by people in a very smooth way. He can backdoor a quarterback, but (Brett) Favre won't give you much time to come in the backdoor." Said another scout: "He's their best player on defense. He can rush the passer, cover, wreak havoc. It will be tough for him to beat Clifton. That's the one Green Bay has to win."

NEVER SAY DIE: RT Marc Colombo, the Bears' first-round draft pick in 2002, was limited by injury and performance to seven starts in four seasons for Chicago. In the '04 finale at Soldier Field, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila beat him for four sacks in 2.4, 3.3, 2.8 and 2.2 seconds. "He is like Cleveland as a city," one scout said. "Cleveland was the comeback city of the century. He is the comeback lineman of the century. He was awful." Colombo signed with Dallas late in '05, won the RT job in '06 and continues to play competitively. "I think Colombo will do as good a job against (Aaron) Kampman as anybody because he's strong," the scout said. "Someone has taken him there and taught him to use his very long arms. He settles in an inside-outside position, reads the guy, takes the inside away with his big body and then uses his long arms to shove the guy beyond the QB. Kampman will give him some trouble but he's strong and he makes a pretty good stand. It won't be easy to power rush him."

STANDOUT BACKUP: Nobody in the scouting world has anything bad to say about RB Julius Jones. However, just about every scout says that Marion Barber is the Cowboys' No. 1 ball carrier even though he has started three games in almost three full seasons. "The Packers better hope they see the other guy (Jones)," one scout said. "If you have to deal with Barber, he'll be dropping the hammer on you. It's not even close. Smart, strong, tough and instinctive. He just brings bad intentions." A defensive coach for a recent Dallas foe agreed. "It's hard to believe he doesn't start," he said. "I don't know what the hell the deal is. Barber is tougher than (expletive). Fast. Quick feet. To me, he's really a good back. He's the whole package. He'll run your (expletive) over. Jones is good. I don't see him in Barber's class."

NOT COMPLETE: SS Roy Williams, the eighth pick in 2002, has major problems trying to cover. "He can't," one scout said. "It's noticeable. What he gives them is some intimidation around the middle. You cross through there, you're taking your life in your hands. But in one-on-one coverage he's a liability." Williams is tough and has 19 career interceptions. "Obviously, he's a good downhill run defender," another scout said. "You watch the Giants, they flexed (Jeremy) Shockey out wide and tried to isolate Williams. That's what you try to do. You need to attack him. He will flow hard to action. He struggles on the deep part of the field."

RIDING HIGH: Just about everyone likes QB Tony Romo. "Is he Favre? No," one scout said. "But he's heading in that direction. I've seen him in a lot of pressure situations this year and he seems to be at his best when those things are happening." Romo was so-so down the stretch last season but has been more consistent in '07. "He is very good, especially when he can slide up into the pocket," an opposing assistant coach said. "He's a little bit of a gunslinger. Romo can make the big mistake and give it right back to you. But he can also throw that one right in there to beat you. The Jets had real good coverage and he hit (Terrell) Owens just absolutely perfect. He dropped that ball right on the money. That was impressive."

Al Harris prepares for a large dose of Owens

The last time they met at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Terrell Owens cast a spell on Al Harris that turned the already high-strung, emotion-filled cornerback into a certified basket case.

Harris, the man who will be handling the bulk of the coverage on Owens when the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys meet tonight at Texas Stadium, was understandably hyped when the Packers faced his former team, the Eagles, and their dominating receiver.

Owens didn't even know it at the time, but his mere presence on the field resulted in Harris' blood boiling so hot that he lost sight of the "team" in team defense. The only opponent Harris saw that day was No. 81, and it ended up embarrassing Harris and undercutting the team in a 47-17 loss on the road.

"I was loony," Harris said of the 2004 game. "I blew some coverages. A couple times we were in Cover 2 and I'm playing man because I was so locked in. Afterwards, Coach (Mike) Sherman called me upstairs and told me I can't get involved in those individual matchups."

Three years later, Harris is trying to avoid stoking the emotional blast furnace that roared inside him that day and is approaching the rematch with Owens in much more controlled fashion. He has to play better than he did in Philadelphia.
"I think he's going to be under control this time," cornerbacks coach Lionel Washington said. "I told him to relax. When we get there (to kickoff), then get prepared. I think he's in that state."

With 64 catches for 1,093 yards and 13 touchdowns, Owens comes into the game 2 yards and three touchdowns behind New England's Randy Moss for the NFL lead in those categories. Only Cincinnati's Chad Johnson with 21 catches of 20 or more yards has more than Owens' 19.

He has a touchdown in six straight games and 100 yards receiving in four of the last five. If the Packers are going to beat Dallas, they'll have to neutralize the 6-3, 218-pound Owens, which is where Harris comes in.

If Harris can be physical with him at the line of scrimmage, he'll be able to disrupt his timing with quarterback Tony Romo and make it easier for the pass rush to get home.

In that '04 game, Harris matched up against Owens and played him so physically that he drew two penalties for illegal hands to the face and another for illegal contact. The two got into a shoving match that Harris initiated and Owens seemed surprised to be in.

Owens wound up running through the Packers' zone coverage as if he were invisible. On some of the downs, Harris played Owens man-to-man when he was supposed to be playing zone, leaving the Eagles receivers wide open. Owens finished the game with eight catches for 161 yards and a touchdown.

"I learned a very valuable lesson," Harris said. "You can't get like that. You can't lose your cool."

Ok. A few non-game links:

ESPN features Bo Jackson

And Tom Hicks is a bad owner in England, too …I swear, he must try to tick off his fan base…

Belated recoveries were not limited to Liverpool's Champions League campaign last night as Rafael Benítez took his first genuine steps towards repairing relations with the club's owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

A fractious week inside Anfield ended with Benítez savouring the most emotional night of his Liverpool reign as supporters marched in support of the manager before kick-off and his players produced an ultimately impressive victory over Porto.
From a renewed position of strength it would not have been difficult for the Spaniard to reinforce his opposition to the transfer restrictions which had cast serious doubt on his future at the club. Instead, he made his clearest peace offering to the Americans, reluctantly accepting their revised work structure and insisting their relationship has not been irrevocably destroyed by his previous outbursts.

"I want to make it clear that I don't have any personal problems with the owners," said Benítez. "We were talking about some issues but it was nothing personal. I was not angry with them, just surprised. I was surprised with the situation in the end because I was trying to improve my club.

"OK, now I know I may have to wait but it was a strange situation. I was just trying to do my best for my club but I don't have any personal problems with Tom Hicks or George Gillett."

The Liverpool manager had suggested a thawing in the damaging dispute on the eve of the game but that merely extended to not aggravating his American employers any further.

He had previously infuriated the pair, and courted the sack, with two petulant public displays after their instructions to freeze his January transfer plans - an order that Benítez took as a lack of faith in his ability to bring the Premier League title to Anfield.

But last night he continued: "We need to talk in the future and we will see what happens then about transfers. This has never been about my ego, but it is my responsibility. I need to take care of my team, my squad and my club.

"It would be a lot easier for me to stay and do nothing, just pick up my wages at the end of each month but I want to be involved. We all want what is best for the club and I think the owners understand that."

Benítez's conciliatory tone was in marked contrast to his stinging criticism of the Americans following Liverpool's win at Newcastle last Saturday, and his insistence that he wants to remain involved in transfer policy, a requirement now handed over to the chief executive, Rick Parry, may yet prove a problem when the manager meets his employers on December 16.

Something about Mary

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Favre's House of Pain

Today’s exercise at Bob’s Blog is to review the 0-8 record of Brett Favre at Texas Stadium. A couple initial thoughts; 1) Admittedly, odd numbers about a guy are generally irrelevant, but isn’t there something to 0-8? In an NFL Player’s career, 8 games is half of an entire season. That would seem to constitute a large sample size. 2) Texas Stadium was not his opponent, the Mid-90’s Cowboys were. They were one of the best teams in the history of the sport. You likely were going to lose to them no matter where you played. And 3) Past Performance is not indicative of future results.

Having said all that, there is no question that Texas Stadium is Favre’s house of pain. He has had some very bad days there. I think he is past the stage in his career of things getting in his head, but obviously, this is something he cannot check off his list unless he gets it done tomorrow night.

I was going to break it down game by game this morning, But, Tim McMahon did it for me …Good work, T-Mac…

Date: Oct. 3, 1993
Score: Cowboys 36, Packers 14
Favre's stats: 21-37, 174 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT
Story: Troy Aikman threw for 317 yards against a Packers defense focused on stopping Emmitt Smith, and Favre couldn't keep up. Only the Cowboys' red-zone inefficiency kept the game from being a total laugher. "We got beat by a real good football team," Packers DE Reggie White said. "They busted our butts out there."

Date: Jan. 16, 1994
Score: Cowboys 27, Packers 17
Favre's stats: 28-45, 331 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT
Story: A sloppy performance was good enough for the Cowboys to advance to the NFC Championship Game to meet San Francisco for the second consecutive year. "The way we played today, there was no possible way we could have beat San Francisco," said Emmitt Smith, who rushed for 60 yards on 13 carries while still nursing a separated shoulder. Aikman threw for 302 yards and three TDs.

Date: Nov. 24, 1994
Score: Cowboys 42, Packers 31
Favre's stats: 27-40, 257 yards, 4 TD, 0 INT
Story: A third-string quarterback named Jason Garrett led the Cowboys to a franchise-record 36 second-half points on Thanksgiving Day, overshadowing Favre's four TD passes to Sterling Sharpe. Emmitt Smith aided the Cowboys' cause with 133 rushing yards and 95 receiving yards.

Date: Jan. 8, 1995
Score: Cowboys 35, Packers 9
Favre's stats: 18-35, 211 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
Story: The Cowboys delivered a rather thorough playoff butt kicking. Troy Aikman completed 23 of 30 passes for 337 yards, highlighted by a playoff-record 94-yard TD pass to Alvin Harper that broke the game open. Michael Irvin, Jay Novacek and Harper all had 100-yard receiving games. But the Cowboys couldn't be too happy after the game, as Emmitt Smith aggravated a left hamstring injury, putting his availablity for the NFC Championship Game vs. the 49ers in doubt.

Date: Oct. 8, 1995
Score: Cowboys 34, Packers 24
Favre's stats: 21-41, 295 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, two carries, 25 yards, 2 TD
Story: The Triplets hit yardage milestones in the same game for the first time in their careers -- Troy Aikman passed for 300, Michael Irvin had 100 receiving, and Emmitt Smith rushed for 100. But they needed a clock-milking drive in the fourth quarter to prevent Favre from having a shot at finishing a comeback from three touchdowns down.

Date: Jan. 14, 1996
Score: Cowboys 38, Packers 27
Favre's stats: 21-39, 307 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT
Story: The Cowboys best defense was handing the ball to Emmitt Smith. They did so 35 times, and he responded by rushing for 150 yards and three touchdowns, allowing the Cowboys to control the ball for 39 minutes. Fifty of those yards and two of those TDs came in the fourth quarter, which began with the Cowboys trailing, primarily due to MVP Favre's brilliance.

Date: Oct. 18, 1996
Score: Cowboys 21, Packers 6
Favre's stats: 21-37, 194 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Story: Chris Boniol tied an NFL record with seven field goals in a game dominated by the Dallas defense, which sacked Favre four times. "There's so much hype about Favre and the Packer offense that we wanted to prove we could go out and stop anybody," Cowboys cornerback Kevin Smith said. "We made the plays."

Date: Nov. 14, 1999
Score: Cowboys 27, Packers 13
Favre's stats: 26-50, 260 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT
Story: OK, this was the one Cowboys team Favre faced in Texas Stadium that wasn't pretty damn good. The Triplets were all spectators for this game, but Jason Garrett (199 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT) outplayed Favre. Favre had a chance to tie the score in the final minute, but ex-Packer George Teague picked off a pass and returned it 95 yards for a door-slamming TD.

It is all about the pass rush for the Cowboys ….

The Dallas Cowboys know that if they can't make Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre uncomfortable in the pocket Thursday, their secondary is in for a long night.
The question is, how much do they dare blitz?

"I don't think you can just let him sit back there all day and let him throw it," said Cowboys coach Wade Phillips. "That's the cat-and-mouse game or the chess game or whatever you want to call it."

Phillips' 3-4 defense is ranked seventh in the NFL and one reason is that the Cowboys have gotten to the quarterback. Outside linebackers DeMarcus Ware and Greg Ellis have nine and 8 1/2 sacks, respectively, and Ware leads the team with 20 quarterback pressures.

The problem facing the Cowboys is that Green Bay has been so effective with its multiple-receiver formations that Dallas won't be able to stay in its base defense and leave four linebackers on the field. Then the challenge will be to get pressure on Favre, with or without the blitz.

"Of course, (Favre) can recognize the blitz better than some quarterbacks so he knows to get rid of it," Phillips said. "He knows what's coming and where to go with (the ball). But you've still got to try to put pressure on him."

Disrupting Favre is a priority because if Dallas has a weakness, it's coverage downfield. Last week, when the New York Jets opened the game with three wide receivers, the Cowboys took out four-time Pro Bowl strong safety Roy Williams, ending his streak of consecutive starts at 90.

"Whatever needs to be done to help the team, I'm all for it," Williams said. "No complaining from me. It is what it is. It wasn't explained to me. It doesn't really need to be explained to me."

When the Packers go with Donald Driver, Greg Jennings and James Jones, the Cowboys' secondary will consist of cornerbacks Terence Newman, Anthony Henry and Jacques Reeves and free safety Ken Hamlin.

"Let's not make something out of nothing," Phillips said of Williams' demotion. "If they put five wide receivers in there, you might have to put all corners in there. We're just reacting to what the other team does."

No matter how many cornerbacks the Cowboys deploy, somebody is going to have to get to Favre. Phillips noted that Favre has completed more passes of 40 yards or longer than any quarterback in the league.

"He's going to go back and throw some deep ones," Phillips said. "He doesn't throw those off three-step drops every time. He's going to sit back there and wing it, so you've got to get some pressure on him. But that's a problem. That's the challenge for us."

If defensive ends Chris Canty and Marcus Spears and nose tackle Jay Ratliff can't get to Favre, the Cowboys are going to have to blitz.

"It's been hard for guys to get to him because they do so much quick stuff," Ware said. "Those receivers, they have it rehearsed: if my guy is coming (on a blitz), I'm just going to turn around. Brett will just throw it to him or find the open guy.
"So you've got to get to him and when you get there, you've got to be able to get him down."

Phillips was joking when he said he warned his players not to ask for Favre's autograph before the game. But he underscored the point that Favre is a future Hall of Famer who is having one of the best seasons of his career.

How healthy are the Packers? …not very…

The Green Bay Packers cheered positive developments on the injury front Tuesday regarding defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, safety Nick Collins and tackle Mark Tauscher, fretted about tight end Bubba Franks and still weren't sure about cornerback Charles Woodson and safety Aaron Rouse.

One thing is certain. The Dallas Cowboys, with 52 of 53 players available, will be healthier than the Packers when the two teams meet Thursday night at Texas Stadium.
"Our guys will be ready to play," coach Mike McCarthy said. "There's a lot of activity in the training room. I think it just shows you the spirit of the individuals who are trying to play."

Woodson (toe), Gbaja-Biamila (ankle) and Rouse (knee) were listed as questionable. The Packers will categorize other injured players today.

On Tuesday, Woodson observed the early portion of practice and then participated in a jog-through to familiarize himself with the game plan.

"He's improving," McCarthy said. "He's dealt with this injury before. He's making progress."

During his career in Oakland, Woodson said he took a painkilling injection and played with a similar injury but to his other big toe.

"I've never been shot up but I've never been injured like that," linebacker Nick
Barnett said. "I'm sure he'll go if he possibly can run even 80%."

Said cornerback Al Harris: "I don't know what's going on right now. But me knowing 'Wood,' if he can go, he's going to go. But any kind of a foot, ankle, toe, that's hard for a corner."

Gbaja-Biamila ran through some individual drills, worked with the trainers during practice and then declared himself fit.

"I'm ready to go 100%," Gbaja-Biamila said. "It's a big game and I want to be in it. It's a coach's call, but I feel good."

And now, the latest on the hottest topic in the land: Does Tony Romo idolize Brett Favre? …Seriously. This is out of control. He is denying it this week. He has said in the past that he was a huge fan. But, who cares? I think he is playing this the only way he can, as the last thing you want to do is fuel the fire by admitting that you are playing your hero. I do wonder if Romo’s head will be as cool as it usually is, or will he be forcing the ball into coverage. We will know soon enough…

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has done everything he can this week to downplay his admiration for Packers quarterback Brett Favre while growing up in Burlington, Wis.

However, for all he says about Joe Montana and Michael Jordan, Romo can't fool Cowboys teammates who know him well, such as tight end Jason Witten.

Witten has been to Burlington with Romo to take part in a football camp run by Romo's former high school coaches.

"The truth is, he loved (Favre)," Witten told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "He can imitate him, he can do all that stuff. He's done a good job of relaxing and understanding where he's at. I think he's playing it off pretty good. But that's his hero."

Romo has been playing down admiration for Favre because the two will be locked in an important game Thursday night featuring the NFC's two best teams, both 10-1.
He presumably doesn't want to come off as too much of a Favre fan when his job is to beat him.

For instance, Romo told reporters in Dallas this week that he "can understand the (Favre) angle and it's nice and it's fun, but I have to beat the guy this week."
In a teleconference Sunday with reporters who cover the Packers, he was asked about growing up in Burlington and watching Favre and the Packers.

"I really was a basketball fan growing up, honestly," he said. "Football was obviously a big thing to everyone, but I was more of a basketball guy growing up. Football was just something to do on Sundays.

"As the Packers got better, it was (more fun) to watch. Brett was obviously a big part of that."

But in the conference call with reporters in Wisconsin, Romo gave at least a hint of what he thinks of Favre when said he didn't try to emulate the Packers' quarterback while playing in high school and college.

"No, Brett's Brett," Romo said.

"At the end of the day, anybody trying to pretend there's another Brett is just kidding themselves. That's like saying you've got the next Jordan. That's just what people want to talk about. The reality is, he's one of a kind and there will never be another one like him. It's just neat to be able to watch him from time to time."

Great Video of Romo not loving

Now, on to the sad tragedy of Sean Taylor. Someone pointed out that it was odd that Taylor does not lead off the blog each day. I suppose you are right, it is a human life, but this blog is generally all about Dallas and that is why the Cowboys game has been the lead the last few days…that being said, Michael Wilbon has a very intriguing column on Taylor’s death ….

I wasn't surprised in the least when I heard the news Monday morning that Sean Taylor had been shot in his home by an intruder. Angry? Yes. Surprised? Not even a little. It was only in June 2006 that Taylor, originally charged with a felony, pleaded no contest to assault and battery charges after brandishing a gun during a battle over who took his all-terrain vehicles in Florida. After that, an angry crew pulled up on Taylor and his boys and pumped at least 15 bullets into his sport-utility vehicle. So why would anybody be surprised? Had it been Shawn Springs, I would have been stunned. But not Sean Taylor.

It wasn't long after avoiding jail time and holding on to his football career that Taylor essentially said, "That's it, I'm out," to the world of glamorized violence he seemed comfortable negotiating earlier. Anybody you talk to, from Coach Joe Gibbs to Jeremy Shockey, his college teammate, will cite chapter and verse as to how Taylor was changing his life in obvious ways every day. He had a daughter he took everywhere. Gibbs said he attended team chapel services regularly. Everybody saw a difference, yet it didn't help him avoid a violent, fatal, tragic end.

Coincidence? We have no idea, not yet anyway. Could have been a random act, a break-in, something that happens every day in America, something that could happen to any one of us no matter how safe we think our neighborhood is. Could have been just that. But would it surprise me if it was more than that, if there was a distinct reason Taylor was sleeping with a machete under his bed? A machete. Even though his attorney and friend Richard Sharpstein says his instincts tell him "this was not a murder or a hit," would it stun me if Taylor was specifically targeted? Not one bit.
You see, just because Taylor was changing his life, don't assume the people who pumped 15 bullets into his SUV a couple of years ago were in the process of changing theirs. Maybe it was them, maybe not. Maybe it was somebody else who had a beef with Taylor a year earlier, maybe not. Maybe it was retribution or envy or some volatile combination.

Here's something we know: People close to Taylor, people he trusted to advise him, told him he'd be better off if he left South Florida, that anybody looking for him could find him in the suburbs of Miami just as easily as they could have found him at the U a few years ago. I'm told that Taylor was told to go north, to forget about Miami. I can understand why he would want to have a spot in or near his home town, but I sure wish he hadn't.

The issue of separating yourself from a harmful environment is a recurring theme in the life of black men. It has nothing to do with football, or Sean Taylor or even sports. To frame it as a sports issue is as insulting as it is naive. Most of us, perhaps even the great majority of us who grew up in big urban communities, have to make a decision at some point to hang out or get out.

The kid who becomes a pharmaceutical rep has the same call to make as the lawyer or delivery guy or accountant or sportswriter or football player: Cut off anybody who might do harm, even those who have been friends from the sandbox, or go along to get along.

Mainstream folks -- and, yes, this is a code word for white folks -- see high-profile athletes dealing with this dilemma and think it's specific to them, while black folks know it's everyday stuff for everybody, for kids with aspirations of all kinds -- even for a middle-class kid with a police-chief father, such as Taylor -- from South Central to Southeast to the South Side. Some do, some don't. Some will, some won't. Some can, some cannot. Often it's gut-wrenching. Usually, it's necessary. For some, it takes a little bit too long.

Mavs Central looks at the Mavs start compared to last season ….

Cowlishaw wonders about the Stars streak

They were trudging along at 7-7-3 and had just suffered a terrible loss in Los Angeles when owner Tom Hicks fired Armstrong. It was an unusual move to ignite a team, replacing a general manager instead of a coach.

The team picked up a point in an overtime loss to San Jose, then reeled off six straight wins. Suddenly, this team is scoring.

Suddenly, Mike Modano is unburdened by the pursuit of a scoring mark and is playing more like he is 27 than 37.

And, suddenly, the Stars own the third most points in the NHL, right behind Detroit and Ottawa.

Is another Pacific Division title just around the corner with long overdue playoff success to follow?

I still don't see it.

Much of the Stars' success is attributable to increased scoring, the product of a power play clicking along at 24 percent. We know that doesn't last.

And the fact that Mike Smith has outplayed Marty Turco remains a disturbing sign.
We know Turco is the goalie come playoff time. He has earned that through the years and put a stamp on it with three shutouts of Vancouver in last year's playoff.
But his 2.59 goals against average is the highest of his career. Like the power play, we know that shouldn't last, either.

I think whatever energy the club has derived from the management change will wear out along the way. It's hard to see this roster outplaying Anaheim or San Jose over 82 games though the Ducks lost a lot when Scott Niedermayer didn't come back (at least he hasn't yet) and the Sharks have been inexplicably awful at home.

Jere gone until February

Right wing Jere Lehtinen will have sports hernia surgery after all, Dave Tippett said Monday. Lehtinen could be out 8-10 weeks.

"They found some inflammation and wanted to make sure that wasn't the cause of the problem," Tippett said. "They've ruled that out now."

Stars co-general manager Les Jackson said the team will look from within to fill voids.

"If we go along the trail and see something that makes sense, we'll act," Jackson said. "But we got a lot out of guys in our [injury] situation last year, so we're hoping to get the same results."

Guerin a fine choice to be Islanders Captain

It was all there on a silver platter for Ryan Smyth last summer. Captain Canada could have become Captain Long Island, but he took slightly less money to play second banana to buddy Joe Sakic in Colorado.

It was a blow to the hopes of Islanders general manager Garth Snow and coach Ted Nolan, whose emphasis on leadership in the locker room was underlined earlier in the summer when they convinced owner Charles Wang to buy out captain Alexei Yashin, whose legacy ultimately was his lack of passion for the job. The void at the top had Islanders fans in an uproar in the early days of the free-agent market.

Enter Bill Guerin. Signing a 36-year-old player to a two-year deal worth $9 million was panned widely in the NHL media as a desperation move. But Snow and Nolan knew what they were doing when they immediately handed the "C" to the newcomer.

At last, they had the kind of captain they wanted, a take-charge type who would be a stand-up guy in the locker room and on the ice. While the goaltending of Rick DiPietro has provided the foundation for the Islanders' 10-6 start, people from one end of the organization to the other credit the subtraction of Yashin and the addition of Guerin for creating a new sense of togetherness and purpose.

"He's been great in our locker room," said enforcer Chris Simon, who is close to Nolan and understands better than anyone what kind of leadership is required to play the coach's style. "Billy's play speaks for itself," Simon said. "He plays in the hard areas. He's not a perimeter player. When a guy plays the way he does and carries himself the way he does, everybody listens from young guys to older guys. That's a real good thing."

Since being named captain, Guerin hasn't made a false step. The ink barely was dry on his contract when he and fellow newcomer Mike Comrie told the club they wanted to donate tickets and game transportation to kids who otherwise would have little opportunity to attend a hockey game. At training camp in Moncton, New Brunswick, Guerin was everywhere signing autographs, working with alternate captains Mike Sillinger and Brendan Witt to organize team events and making sure all his teammates got to know him.

"The biggest thing to me was the chemistry and the camaraderie on the team, making sure everybody wanted to be there and wanted to be a part of the Islanders," Guerin said yesterday. "I think we have that. We've got a great group of guys. We support each other, and we're trying to make it like a family.

"Ted's a big camaraderie guy, as well. He made a point to Brendan, Mike and myself that, as captains, it's our job to make sure the guys are spending time together and that their families know each other. So get the wives involved. Things like that definitely translate to better play on the ice because you care more about each other."

The death of the goal judge is underway

Lou Lamoriello, the Devils’ chief executive, president and general manager, considers himself a hockey traditionalist, which should come as no surprise to those who have watched the teams he assembled win three Stanley Cups.

“I’d still like to see the boards white,” he said with a chuckle not long ago.
The boards at arenas are covered with advertisements these days, and now Lamoriello has to deal with another change in tradition: When the Devils moved to Prudential Center in Newark this season, the goal-judge booths did not make the trip.

The N.H.L. still has goal judges, but they do not all still sit in Plexiglas boxes behind the end boards in back of the goals. In at least 20 of the 30 arenas, the judges sit in the lower stands or in press boxes.

After 90 years, goal judges were moved for two reasons:

¶With instant replay available and a second referee next to the goal, goal judges are not exactly judges. They still push a button to turn on a light to let the crowd know a goal was scored, but they and the referees can be overruled by conclusive replay evidence. “People want to see the right calls made,” Mike Murphy, a former player and coach who is the N.H.L.’s vice president for hockey operations, said in a recent telephone interview from his office in Toronto.

¶The second reason, not surprisingly, was money. The booths took up space that could be filled with seats — choice seats that can fetch high prices. At Prudential Center, for instance, the Devils can sell six extra front-row tickets at $200 each.
At Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, where the goal judges sit in the press box, 12 goal-judge seats — 6 at each end of the rink — are sold for at least $500 apiece, far more than the $89 face value of all the other lower-bowl seats.

“Any time we can add a new experience or create a new product, it generates fan exposure and enhances the product,” said Shawn Tilger, the Flyers’ vice president for marketing and communications.

At Nassau Coliseum, the booths were in front of the first row of seats, but they were taken out because they obstructed fans’ views. The judges now sit in boxes at the top of the lower bowl, the same area they occupy at Madison Square Garden.
“We know it’s a tradition, and it was not something we take lightly, but in the end, we decided it was better for the customers,” said Chris Botta, an Islanders spokesman.

Lamoriello said he was disappointed to see the booths go. But he understood the economics behind the N.H.L.’s decision to recommend relocating the judges. He also understood that TV cameras could do what the judges did, only better.

“With modern technology and television available, we’d be under so much criticism if there were mistakes made if we didn’t use these things,” Lamoriello said.

This is from a good, strong p1. I think you will like it. It is a ticket-based crossword puzzle …see how well you can do…

Sean Avery vs. Darcy Tucker (with Don Cherry)

Dog likes Alabama

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Nov 27, 2007 - part 2

And now, on to our links:

What is more surprising? That a) The Mavericks lose 3 in a row!

Dallas continued its lazy offensive habits and optional defense, getting hammered in the second half for a 110-98 loss to the Wizards. Washington was without its best player, Gilbert Arenas, but the rest of the team played so well that the game was never in doubt down the stretch.

Butler had 35 points, a career-best five 3-pointers without a miss, a team-high eight rebounds and two steals.

It was the Mavericks' third consecutive loss and their first at home after starting the season with six victories at American Airlines Center.

"We're not very good offensively right now," coach Avery Johnson said. "We've been real spotty with our offense, and defense. We're not getting enough contributions throughout the 48 minutes like we were in the real early part of the season.

"The energy hasn't been there. We don't really like where we are right now. We've been here before. We've lost more than three in a row before. I don't think championship teams can afford to get used to losing two or three in a row."

This is the Mavericks' longest losing streak since they opened last season 0-4.
They could blame Butler, who was sensational in every aspect.

But that would be overlooking their own problems.

The Mavs were lazy on offense, settling for too many jumpers. They were 3-of-21 from 3-point range. They shot 39 percent for the game and just 22-of-62 (35.5 percent) in the last three quarters. A big first quarter by Dirk Nowitzki masked problems that became obvious later in the game.

Dallas' sluggish offense wasn't helped by the fact it couldn't stop the Wizards.
By the time the final four minutes rolled around, Johnson had waved the proverbial white flag, sitting most of his regulars. It was then that former Maverick Antawn Jamison missed the second of two free throws, but got his own rebound and banked in a short shot. It was a final indignation for a poor all-around showing in the second half.

Or, b) That the Stars have won 6 in a row! …And they actually deserved this one by grinding down the Islanders…

Sometimes they've been pretty. Sometimes they've been ugly. Heck, some have even been pretty ugly.

But if there has been one constant in the variety of games the Stars are playing right now, it's this: They've all been victories. They added another one to that total Monday night.

Mike Modano scored two goals, including the game-winner 35 seconds into overtime, as the Stars beat the Islanders 3-2 at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Stars have now won six in a row for the first time since Jan. 23-Feb. 1, 2006.

The Stars also took a four-point lead over the idle Ducks in the Pacific Division.
Once again, it wasn't the most fundamentally sound game the Stars have played. But it didn't matter as the Stars once again found ways to win.

"As opposed to finding ways to lose, it's a lot more fun this way that's for sure," coach Dave Tippett said. "We thought they were going to come out hard, that's their reputation. But we weathered that storm."

Marty Turco stopped 23 of 25 shots and looked solid outside of an early gaffe, when he came out too far and got beat on a shorthanded goal. Tippett said that had more to do with errors up ice than with Turco.

"Great when I'm in the net," Turco joked afterward. Even Brenden Morrow got his dig in: "We've seen worse."

Jeff Halpern also scored the 100th goal of his career.

Just like Sunday against the Rangers, the Stars didn't get off to a fantastic start. But as the game wore on, the Stars stayed strong. They showed their mettle late when a penalty gave the Islanders a power play, on which they scored the game-tying goal. Instead of getting on their heels, the Stars kept driving.

And that driving led to them controlling the puck the entire 35 seconds of overtime before netting the winner.

"A majority of [the victories] have been ugly," Modano said. "We get outshot, and our goalie's been saving us. But we find ways to win. That's the positive, I guess."

In Aggieland, Gil Lebreton has a word or two about the Mike Sherman hire

Whew. What an exhausting "national search."

Don't be surprised, though. Athletic directors with self-aggrandizement issues don't like hiring superstar, $3 million football coaches, especially when the athletic department doesn't have a lot of spare cash sitting around lately to begin with.
And so, alas, Texas A&M AD Bill Byrne did not introduce Steve Spurrier, Tommy Tuberville or Rich Rodriguez as the Aggies' new head football coach Monday.

Instead, we heard things like what a "great fit" Mike Sherman is at A&M. We heard how much his former players love and respect him. And we heard that the former Green Bay Packers head coach was always at the top of Byrne's list -- all three days, or 12 months, or however long you think Byrne had been greasing the exit ramp for Dennis Franchione.

Sherman is a solid choice -- pardon the safe euphemism. He may lack Spurrier's charisma. He may not have Tuberville's college résumé. And unlike Boise State's Chris Petersen, he made no one's Next Hot Thing list.

But Sherman was a successful NFL head coach and, before that, a respected college assistant. And somewhere in those nearly 30 years of coaching, maybe Mike Sherman learned how to be the next Pete Carroll.

Southern Cal's Carroll sits atop a dauntingly short list of former NFL head coaches who have achieved success upon returning to the college ranks.

And there's the rub. If it was so easy to jump from the pros to the BCS top 10, more coaches would have done it.

Sherman has never been a college head coach, especially at a university with the lofty expectations of Texas A&M. And while Sherman claimed to know the neighborhood -- "I know the landscape here. I know the high school coaches here." -- he left College Station more than 10 years ago. The high school coaches he knew are probably long gone.

He does not carry the reputation of an offensive genius. All you have to do is watch the Houston Texans play to see that.

Sherman, the Texans' offensive coordinator, said Monday that he wants to have an "attacking" defense and run an "attacking" offense. More safe euphemisms.
If AD Byrne wanted an innovative genius as head coach, he would have hired one. Right?

Maybe not. Byrne, despite promising a "national search," said that A&M interviewed only one candidate.

He obviously meant that revelation as a compliment to Sherman, but before Aggies hyperventilate, they need to remember that athletic directors use search firms to hunt for coaching candidates nowadays. Often, the search firm makes the final recommendation.

Byrne said that he performed his "due diligence" anyway.

"I've been in this business a long time," he said. "I know a lot of head coaches on a personal basis. I know a lot of NFL coaches.

"We had a full evaluation of coaches all the way down the line. Mike was our top

No Spurrier? No Tuberville?

No, they were always only the stuff of Aggie dreams.

From what we've seen -- and it's been in clear high-def these past two months -- guys like Kaiser Bill Byrne don't want an ornery, independent rascal like Spurrier. They don't want an expensive, well-credentialed coaching star like Tuberville.

Sherman will finish the season in Houston

Sherman was officially announced as the coach of the Aggies on Monday, he plans to finish the NFL season as the offensive coordinator for the Houston Texans.

"It's obligation, it's honor," Sherman said. "I owe it to [Houston coach] Gary Kubiak, [and owner Bob] McNair to finish this season. I told Gary over the phone that I'm going to work harder so you don't ever question what I'm giving this organization."

Sherman will spend most of his time until the end of the season in Houston. The Texans have five games left through Dec. 30, unless they make the playoffs. Houston (5-6) is two games behind Cleveland in the wild-card race and four games behind in the AFC South.

The one area Sherman can help the Aggies while in Houston is on the phone with recruiting. A&M doesn't have a lot of work left to do with this class of 23 commitments.

"I was hired to be the head football coach, and I'm going to make phone calls [Monday] as far as recruits and make sure we have people still on board and maybe attract some other ones that maybe aren't," Sherman said. "It will be a busy month, for sure."

As far as what kind of offense and defense he plans to use, he said some of that will be determined by what he has in terms of talent.

"It's predicated on personnel," Sherman said. "I don't want to say we're going to be this or we're going to be that without actually studying our personnel -- see what's best for us right now."

And his cash

New Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman agreed to a seven-year contract with a base salary of $1.8 million, less than the $2 million his predecessor, Dennis Franchione, was making.

According to athletic director Bill Byrne, it was Sherman who offered to take the smaller salary.

"He said, 'I would rather take less and go out and get the best assistants in the country,'" Byrne said. "He will be free to go out and hire the best assistants that he can possibly get."

Sherman has not hired any assistants, but said he has talked to a few coaches and doesn't think it will take long to compile a staff.

"I want to get it in place as quickly as possible, but not at the expense of making a bad decision," Sherman said.

He said he wants to hire coaches who understand what Texas A&M is about.

Hard to believe, but Redskins Star Sean Taylor, dead at 24

Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor died early Tuesday from the gunshot wound he suffered a day earlier in his Miami home.

"He did not make it through the night," said Taylor's attorney, Richard Sharpstein, who called the incident "a ridiculous, unnecessary tragedy."

Taylor, 24, a Pro Bowl safety whose rocky first years in the NFL had given way to what teammates called a newfound maturity, died at Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he had been taken after being shot once in the leg early Monday morning. Police are investigating the incident as a possible home invasion.

Sharpstein said he was informed of the death by Taylor's father, Pedro Taylor, who called him around 5 a.m. with the news. He told CNN that the elder Taylor "was overwrought with grief and called me to tell me that Sean was with God . . . They're just overcome at this particular point with the loss of a son and father and friend and just an incredible person."

The bullet severed Taylor's femoral artery, causing massive blood loss. He underwent seven hours of surgery, and there were some initially optimistic signs after he emerged from the operation early Monday evening. Described at first as "unresponsive and unconscious," Taylor had squeezed a doctor's hand and made facial expressions, Redskins officials and a family friend said, providing some hope.

But the trauma proved too great. The bleeding "could not really be stopped, only curbed a bit," Sharpstein said.

Taylor died "a couple of hours ago" surrounded by some family members, family friend Donald Walker said shortly after 6 a.m. "Things turned for the worse," Walker said by phone from Taylor's mother's house. There "seemed like a lot of hope after he responded to the doctor's command. But he lost a lot of blood."

Redskins Park was mostly quiet Tuesday morning as grim-faced team officials trickled into work. A small bouquet of white flowers had been placed at the main entrance and flags were lowered to half-staff. Fans, who had gathered Monday with candles, returned Tuesday morning to huddle near Taylor's parking spot. The team posted a brief statement on its Web site saying only that Taylor's family had notified the team "that Taylor passed away."

Idiocy from Paolantonio
Right, Sal. Favre is over-rated. I realize he has more Wins, Touchdowns, Completions, Attempts, and soon Yards than any QB ever, but he is over-rated. Sounds like a great book.

ESPN's Sal Paolantonio is the author of the new book, "The Paolantonio Report: The Most Overrated and Underrated Players, Teams, Coaches & Moments in NFL History." Here are his five most overrated quarterbacks of all-time:

1. Joe Namath: His legend has much more to do with his Super Bowl III performance and his prolific off-field antics than his career stats.

2. Brett Favre: His image in the media has been hyperinflated to the good ol' boy routine, and that's why people like him.

3. Terry Bradshaw: He was ultimately an average quarterback who was surrounded by the greatest cast of talent ever assembled on one NFL roster, including eight Hall of Fame players.

4. Ken Stabler: His only accomplishment was winning the 1976 Super Bowl where the Raiders mostly ran and the defense stifled Fran Tarkenton.

5. Tony Romo: He barely made the team, and after one season of play he became a full-fledged superstar without really accomplishing anything to deserve it.

Classic Sean Taylor - lights up punter

Ref Claims Giving him the business

Packers Fan on Cowboys Radio

Here is an essay I wrote for Pigskin :

The week is finally here. Nobody in their wildest dreams would have ever imagined that both teams would be high above the NFC. But, there is Dallas and Green Bay meeting on the gridiron with identical 10-1 records, and equally identical beliefs that they can find their way to Glendale, Arizona for Super Bowl XLII.

So, where does that leave me? If you are confused by that question, then perhaps this essay is not for you. But to those of you who have been kind enough to listen to my broadcasting efforts the last decade, then you know two things about my situation: 1) I enjoy and treasure the right to host the pre-game, half-time, and general talk shows on the Radio on all things regarding the Dallas Cowboys. And, 2) I was born a Green Bay Packers fan, when I am not working, I remain a Green Bay Packers fan, and long after I end my broadcast career, I am quite sure I will still be a Green Bay Packers fan.
What a conflicted mess for Thursday, eh?

Most of the time, these two distinctions about me pass each-other like ships in the night. Most years that I have lived here, either the Cowboys have been bad, or the Packers have been bad, or both. When such is the case, members of the listening audience have little or no care about my rooting affiliation when I am at home, except those who enjoy taunting me about Brett Favre if has a particularly interception filled evening. But, Thursday, I appear to be an item of some intrigue, as some are wondering how I will handle my professional duties, given my affinity for the “enemy”. A few even seem to believe it would be best if I recuse myself from my duties, because surely anything I say on Thursday must be coated with a secret agenda.

Here is the deal. I do not want to lie to the curious. I suggest that my agenda is not a secret. And I also don’t believe it has ever affected my commentary on the Dallas Cowboys. But, some like to know the home residence locations of referees, time keepers, journalists, and parking attendants. So, here is everything you would want to know about my relationship with the Pack. I was born and raised in Wisconsin. I spent the first 23 years of my life hoping to see the Green Bay Packer s in the Playoffs in a non-strike year (1982 didn’t count in my estimation). I pledged to the Higher Powers that if the Packers ever won a Super Bowl in my lifetime, I promised not to have any further sports requests until my death. In January of 1997, my wish came true, and I plan on keeping my end of the bargain. On my right shoulder, you will see a tattoo of the Packers “G”. In my house, you will find a son of mine, named Brett (partly for Hull, but more for Favre). Over my computer as I type this, you will find a picture of Brett Favre running down the field at the Superdome with his helmet in his outstretched arm above his head after throwing a Touchdown to Andre Rison in that Super Bowl win.

The last thing anyone needs in this business is to hide something from the audience. Like a political candidate who makes up some story about being in Vietnam only to be later exposed, I think it is far more dangerous to be a journalist who is not forthcoming than one who is upfront with you.

Every member of the media has a favorite team, as we all were football fans before we were football employees. Some are up-front and obvious (Aikman, Shannon Sharpe, Dan Marino) and others are not. I often wonder if all members of the media should have an affiliation disclosure policy so that there are no secrets. That way, fans can pick and choose who they want their information from. Some prefer that only Cowboys fans deliver the news, who will tell you that either the Cowboys won, or they were screwed by the refs. But, others like their news from one with no attachment to the team, because those of us who did not grow up with a Roger Staubach jersey on, can sometimes see things with the passionless precision that is often needed.

Bottom line is this: Do you mind that a Green Bay Packers fan does your pregame show? 98% of you don’t seem to mind provided he does a decent enough job on the air. In fact, some people find my Cowboys commentary so complimentary towards Dallas, that I have been called a “Cowboys homer” by those who don’t know better. Do you mind that a Green Bay Packers fan plays QB for you? That’s right, Tony Romo may not have a “G” tattoo, nor a son named “Brett” (yet), but trust me, in my conversations with him, he has been quite forthcoming about his adoration for his childhood heroes. But as long as he does the job for you in 2007, you likely don’t mind.

Part of the job requires that when I come to work, I leave my hobbies at home. It may seem weird, and I won’t lie, sometimes it can be, but I have no problem telling you that I can separate my job from my hobby. If I did have a problem doing that, I don’t think I would be employed too long. And, I really enjoy being employed.

Now, assuming you care about my stance on the game itself, I believe the Cowboys are a better football team, and therefore, I have them winning on Thursday night. Not way better, but better. Also, Favre has a little issue about winning games at Texas Stadium. I think these teams will play again in a few months, but for now, give me the Boys, 31-28. Now did I just say that because I am a Cowboys homer on the Cowboys radio network? Trust me, if I were to say something too harsh about Dallas, long-time Green Bay Packers fan Mickey Spagnola will quickly get me back in line.

That’s right. Mickey also grew up a Packers fan. Oh, the humanity of it all.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Mike Sherman is Here

Here he is, Aggies.
Mike Sherman is hired, and all of your wildest dreams are coming true.

Because of my NFL affiliation, I am asked several times a day by unconvinced Aggies if this was a good hire by A&M. My quick response is that his performance in Green Bay has very little to do with his ability to turn things around in College Station. Sure, the object of the game is still to score more than your opponent, but in the NFL there is no recruiting. He was the General Manager of the Packers, and his drafting was generally lousy, but now he is going to have to out-recruit Stoopes and Brown.

His biggest downfall in Green Bay was his refusal to get tough with Brett Favre. Favre’s erratic play was at its all time worst with Sherman, and it seemed obvious that no matter how many times Brett threw the ball into triple coverage, Sherman was not going to confront him. Mike McCarthy has redone Brett’s on field decision making, so Sherman looks even worse for the way things developed during his tenure. But, in fairness to Sherman, perhaps Favre only listened to McCarthy because of the rock bottom 2005 that occurred with Sherman.

So, if my two critiques of Mike Sherman are: 1) He couldn’t draft to save his life and 2) he couldn’t coach Brett Favre, then Aggies should realize that neither of those apply in college football, and therefore he should be a reasonable hire today. His in game strategy generally seemed too conservative, and of course, he is the only coach in Packers history to lose a playoff game at Lambeau Field (twice) and frankly his legacy in Green Bay is not going to make anyone forget Lambeau, Lombardi, or Holmgren.

Overall, I was hoping for Tuberville or Spurrier. But, Sherman really wants to be the coach of the Aggies. This isn’t a trampoline to another job. He wants to make the Aggies a power. That should really count for something. I am interested in what this will do to the offensive philosophies of this all.

Time to turn the page in Aggieland. Now the frustrating exercise in college football in waiting several years to see how this works. Goodbye, Fran. I doubt you will be missed.

Press Conference is today

Assuming there are no unforeseen snags, Mike Sherman is expected to be named the next head football coach at Texas A&M University, multiple sources told The Dallas Morning News on Sunday.

The school has called an 11 a.m. news conference today at the Bright Football Complex, A&M spokesman Alan Cannon said.

Sherman, 52, served as A&M's offensive line coach in the 1990s. He's currently the offensive coordinator for the NFL's Houston Texans. He declined to comment about the A&M opening after the Texans lost to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday in Cleveland.

Texans spokesman Tony Wyllie said he could not comment on Sherman's status.

Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville, believed to be one of the leading contenders for the A&M position, fell out of the running, a high-ranking university source said.

Tuberville has a $6 million buyout clause in his Auburn contract. A&M officials were not willing to pay that amount "just to talk to him," the university source said. A&M would then have to pay even more to lure Tuberville to College Station.

Tuberville told Auburn reporters Sunday that he will meet with the school's athletic
director Jay Jacobs this week. Those talks could lead to a contract extension.

Dennis Franchione, who was 32-28 in five seasons at A&M, resigned Friday after the regular-season finale against Texas. At that time, A&M athletic director Bill Byrne said the school would conduct a "nationwide" search for Franchione's replacement.
That nationwide search simply took Byrne south on Highway 6 toward Houston.

Sherman was the school's offensive line coach from 1989 to '93. He left A&M for a one-year stint with UCLA then came back to coach the Aggies' linemen in 1995 and '96.

In 1997, Sherman left the college coaching ranks for the NFL when he became the tight ends coach for the Green Bay Packers. He became the team's head coach before the 2000 season.

Sherman led the Packers to five consecutive winning seasons from 2000 to 2004. The franchise won NFC North division titles in 2002, '03 and '04.

Injuries crippled the Packers in 2005. The team finished 4-12 and Sherman was fired shortly after the season. He landed with the Texans as the assistant head coach in 2006, and he became the offensive coordinator this season.

Honorary Aggie to be hired

For the second consecutive season, the Texans' offensive coordinator could get a college head coaching job.

Last year, Troy Calhoun was hired by Air Force, his alma mater.

Now, Mike Sherman is a leading candidate to become the next head coach at Texas A&M.
Sherman, who also is Gary Kubiak's assistant head coach, might not have graduated from A&M, but after coaching two times under R.C. Slocum, he qualifies as an honorary Aggie.

From 1989-1993, Sherman coached the offensive line at A&M. After spending a year at UCLA, Sherman returned to College Station and coached the offensive line again in 1995 and 1996 before Green Bay coach Mike Holmgren hired him to coach Packers tight ends.

Sherman would be a terrific hire for the Aggies. If you don't believe it, ask Kubiak, Holmgren, Brett Favre and former Packers general manager Ron Wolf, all of whom give Sherman their highest endorsement.

Many coaches love A&M because the Aggies have deep pockets and will pay just about anything to find a coach who claims he can make his teams play every week like A&M played Friday, but Sherman wouldn't be doing it for the money.

Sherman loves the Aggies. Back when he was coaching the Packers to the playoffs in four of his six seasons, he told anyone who asked how much he cherished his experience in College Station.

When Sherman was Packers coach, I went to his office to interview him about receiver Donald Driver, a Houston native. After we were introduced, I brought up his two tours in College Station, and he went on and on about how much he loved A&M. I thought at the time he sounded just like an Aggie. And he still does.

Everyone who knows Sherman knows how much he would love to be the next Aggies head coach. He doesn't bleed maroon like Kubiak, but he could.

He knows the tradition and would embrace it. He understands the importance of knowing who's who in the Aggies' pew.

Sherman wouldn't have a Web site or a private newsletter for an elite few. He could tell recruits what it takes to play in the NFL because he has firsthand knowledge.
The Aggies have Sherman in their sights. They should go ahead and pull the trigger. They won't regret it.

Another interesting option for JerryWorld

Texas A&M and Arkansas officials are close to finalizing a non-conference football series at the new Cowboys stadium in Arlington starting in 2009, a source close to the negotiations told The Dallas Morning News.

The schools are close to signing a six- to eight-year deal that would bring a
potential blockbuster matchup to the area that could rival the annual Texas-Oklahoma game at Fair Park.

Arkansas officials are expected to fly to the area this week for one final look at the stadium and the contract, the source said.

A&M spokesman Alan Cannon said he could not confirm a contract with Arkansas. He did
say the school was considering a non-conference game at the new Cowboys stadium. Arkansas and Cowboys officials could not be reached.

A&M athletic director Bill Byrne has made no secret about his desire to play a high-profile game in North Texas. For months, it was thought A&M would play Texas Tech. An Arkansas game would effectively take those plans off the table.

Byrne was asked about the possibility of bringing a Big 12 game to the Dallas area during an Internet chat with fans hosted by The News on Aug. 29.

"It's more likely for us to look at a non-conference game," Byrne said then. "We haven't established an opponent yet, but we're very interested in being in the Metroplex starting in 2009."

Meanwhile, the Stars are ready for the “let the truth be told” road trip. This is where we find out if they have the ability to score. Everyone gets goals at home, but when the Stars have gone on the road, 1 od 2 things has been happening: 1) they get smoked or 2) somehow they win, but nobody is quite sure how they did it.

Such was the case yesterday in New York as the Starts were out shot by a mile, and yet won the game …Very much like their visit to San Jose on the last trip…

Dallas Stars coach Dave Tippett said he could summarize Sunday's 3-2 win over the New York Rangers pretty easily.

"The coaches just asked me what I'm going to say to the media," Tippett said after netminder Mike Smith had 39 saves. "I told them I was going to say, 'The goalie was really blanking good.' "

The Stars stole a game Sunday. Smith shocked a hard-driving Rangers team by coming up with pad saves, glove saves, blocker saves and even the occasional flopping-on-the-puck save. Meanwhile, the Stars went 2-for-3 on the power play and got opportunistic goals from Jussi Jokinen, Loui Eriksson and Brenden Morrow as they solved the top goalie in the NHL right now – Henrik Lundqvist – on three of 18 shots.

"We're going to have to battle here. There are people who are going to have to raise their level, and that's the way it's going to be," Tippett said. "We're looking for people to make a couple of plays that make a difference, and they did that. I think we had two scoring opportunities in the first two periods, and we were 2-for-2."

The victory allows the Stars to keep momentum going as they are 5-0-1 since naming Les Jackson and Brett Hull co-general managers. The win pushes Dallas to 12-7-4 and keeps the Stars in first place in the Pacific Division.

"We found a way to win," said Smith, who has allowed four goals in four games since returning from having wisdom teeth removed. "Sometimes it's not pretty, but you get it done and move on. That's our job, Marty's and my job, to bail our guys out when maybe they're not feeling that great or they're not having a great period or two."
Asked if he was surprised to have a chance to win despite a 41-18 shot differential, Morrow said: "It sure didn't feel like that, but when you get the chance, you need to take advantage of it. Whatever it takes, you need to stay on top of it. It could be anything, a power play, a batted puck. You just have to know it can happen at anytime."

The Stars' few scoring chances seemed to shoot a dagger through the Rangers and Lundqvist, who came into the game with a 1.75 GAA and a .934 save percentage. Jokinen's goal was particularly deflating as it came in the final minute of a first period the Rangers dominated, and also came at the end of a shift in which New York appeared ready to get a great scoring opportunity. Stephane Robidas made a nice poke check of Scott Gomez, and the puck squirted to Jokinen, who had a clean breakaway. He went to his forehand and beat Lundqvist with 53 seconds remaining in the period.

Eriksson also scored on a breakaway after he was set up by Sergei Zubov. And finally, Morrow scored after Mike Ribeiro split two defenders and sent him a cross-ice pass.

Once the Stars had their 3-2 lead at the 4:04 mark of the third period, they became more aggressive and worked hard to keep the Rangers' scoring chances to a minimum.
"As the game went on, I thought the third period was our best by far," Tippett said.
Still, the Stars know this isn't a formula for consistent winning. They play at the Islanders tonight, then at New Jersey on Wednesday.

This Just in: Eli Might not be Peyton ….

First quarter, tied 7-7, third-and-7 from the Giants' 13. Manning dropped back to pass and saw the Vikings blitzing. Or so he thought. He saw one linebacker rush, then expected another to do the same, and adjusted accordingly by making what's called a "hot read." One problem: Jeremy Shockey read it another way and kept running.

When Manning released the ball, he expected Shockey to adjust to the hot read by cutting his route short. When he didn't, safety Darren Sharper stepped in front, caught the ball and returned it for a 20-yard touchdown.

It was the beginning of a meltdown previously unseen in Manning's four-year career. In fact, it was previously unseen in Giants history. This was the first time a Giant had thrown three interceptions returned for touchdowns in the same game.

Not Dave Brown. Not Scott Brunner. Not Joe Pisarcik. Even Jerry Golsteyn never threw this many.

"It was a good disguise," Manning said. "I threw it hot and the guy was in the right spot."

With a crowd that included Manning's more famous and more accomplished older brother Peyton looking on, Eli gave Giants fans four more reasons to wonder whether he will ever be the quarterback to lead this team to a championship.

Reason No. 1: Sharper's return with 3:15 to play in the first quarter. No. 2: Dwight Smith's 93-yard interception return for a touchdown with 13:41 left in the fourth. Reason No. 3: Chad Greenway's 37-yard return for a touchdown 42 seconds after that. No. 4: Another interception by Smith that was returned to the 8 and set up a fourth touchdown.

OK, in all fairness, reason No. 2 wasn't all Manning's fault; the ball was tipped by linebacker Ben Leber before Smith picked it off and ran down the right sideline.

But let's not quibble over the details; by any measure, this was one brutal afternoon for the former No. 1 overall pick for whom the Giants paid a king's ransom.

The only good news out of all this: The Giants are 7-4 and lead the NFC wild-card race. But by this time next week, even that rationalization might ring hollow if Manning can't get up off the canvas and beat the Bears in Chicago.

"When you throw four interceptions, it's never good," Manning said. "They took advantage of it and scored on three of them. Every one has its own story ... We didn't catch any breaks and we didn't perform well, and they took advantage of it."

Manning still is not even four years into his career, so it's still premature to make any sweeping judgments about his legacy. Consider: It took Phil Simms five years of injuries and inconsistency before he established himself as a legitimate .quarterback.

But it's games like this that make you wonder just how good Manning will be. And whether the Giants can rely on him to avoid the kind of .second-half collapse that nearly got Tom Coughlin fired after last season and that now threatens his tenure once again.

Coughlin cannot survive if Manning cannot produce the kind of results the Giants envisioned when they poured all that cash and all those draft picks into his selection. He shows promise, such as the four-touchdown performance in the opener against Dallas. But then he gives it all back with a game like yesterday's.

AFC vs. NFC ….

Yes, it has been that long, 1995 to be exact, since the NFC won the interconference series. The NFC topped the AFC in 33 of 60 matchups that season, with the Dallas Cowboys punctuating the senior conference's dominance by defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers, 27-17, in Super Bowl XXX.

Since then, the NFC's less-than-scintillating performance against the AFC should pretty much be XXX-out.

In the past 11 seasons, the AFC has registered a 370-300-2 record in the AFC-NFC matchups, and has won the competition every year, except in 2000 and 2001, when the NFC held its own at 30-30 in each of those seasons. The AFC also has claimed eight of 11 Super Bowl championships, including the past four titles, and six of the past seven.

"It's obscene, ridiculous, really, that the AFC has owned the series for so many years," said Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre, who has been around for the entire reign of terror by the junior conference. "It just shouldn't be that way."
And maybe, at long last, it won't be that way this season -- thanks in part to Favre and the Packers, who own a 3-0 mark for 2007 against AFC foes with one interconference game left, a home contest against the Oakland Raiders on Dec. 9.

Through the Thanksgiving Day games, the NFC surprisingly leads the interconference series this season by a 24-22 count. And if those two dozen victories don't seem like all that much, well, consider this: With 18 interconference games still to play, the 24 wins are as many as the NFC managed in 2006, when the AFC posted a 40-24 record. And they are nearly as much as the NFC's average of 24.6 wins the past three seasons.

So 24 wins for the NFC at this point of the season is progress of a sort.
That the NFC has been so thoroughly manhandled for more than a decade now, with the AFC's superiority reflected in a .557 winning mark, is both incomprehensible and inexplicable. What it hasn't been is cyclical, because, in the NFL, such pendulum swings clearly aren't supposed to last so long.

Free Agency doesn’t offer pitching this winter? Perhaps you need to trade for Bedard or Kazmir?

It's more of the same in Baltimore and Tampa Bay, where Bedard and Kazmir could form the foundations of winning staffs -- or merely be very good pitchers on competitive teams if the surrounding casts can't be upgraded.

In the case of the Rays, there's economics to worry about. Kazmir will be arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, and although he won't be eligible for free agency until after 2010, he will become increasingly expensive the next three seasons.

For a team with a projected payroll of about $35 million next year, that's no small factor.

Meanwhile, the Orioles are in full rebuilding mode and would love to move veterans Miguel Tejada and Melvin Mora to speed up the process. They might not be actively looking to deal Bedard, but with 10 consecutive losing seasons and a new management team in place, they have to examine everything -- Bedard included.

As valuable as young frontline starters are, some believe they are being made available because of baseball's over-infatuation with prospects.

"I've never seen a time in this game when kids in Baseball America are more valuable than guys who win at the big league level," one baseball executive complained. "It's great to have good prospects, but have we forgotten it's whether you win that is most important? When you talk to other teams about young pitching, it's like you're talking about their child.

The Smug Matt Serra is out for UFC 79 …Very disappointing, as I was looking forward to Matt Hughes wiping the octagon with him…

Serra out, St. Pierre in for UFC 79

Who says news slows down during the holidays?

It certainly hasn't this Thanksgiving weekend for UFC. The promotion informed fans on on Friday that Matt Serra had injured his back last week and would not be able to defend his welterweight title against Matt Hughes at UFC 79.

Just when I thought the mega-card had taken a mega-hit, UFC announced yesterday on
its Web site that Georges St. Pierre will step in to fight Hughes for the interim title at UFC 79. The winner of that fight faces Serra sometime next year for the undisputed title.

While I'm not sure exactly what the interim title truly signifies, I do know that this will be a great fight. I was looking forward to Serra-Hughes, but St. Pierre-Hughes is pretty special, too. The fight pits the two previous champs in the weight class and represents the rubber match in their trilogy. With five weeks still remaining before the bout, the main question is: Will this be enough time for St. Pierre to train and get ready for the fight?

At the very least St. Pierre has the benefit of having fought Hughes twice before and Hughes himself will also have to rethink his game plan, since St. Pierre is a very different fighter from Serra.

If St. Pierre wins -- which sets up St. Pierre-Serra II -- I hope Serra and Hughes get an opportunity to fight each other sometime in 2008. The animosity that has been building up between the two deserves a decisive resolution inside the Octagon.
Along with the announced dream match between Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva as well as the introduction of Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou to UFC fans (in a bout against Lyoto Machida), the St. Pierre-Hughes match maintains the mega-status of the card. After a couple of harrowing days, fans can exhale, knowing the integrity of this card has not been affected by the recent developments.


Mike Sherman – Commercial Spokesman