Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Politics of Hate

Watching Super Bowl week without a real dog in the fight reminds me that one of my principle motivations in sports is to hate certain teams. The Colts title last year was the first by one of my big four (Colts, Pacers, Reds, IU) since 1990, and only the 4th of my lifetime (81 and 87 Hoosiers as well). That means that most post-seasons, I'm left hunting for reasons to care. That reason is typically because I hate one of the teams involved. This year, I'm partially motivated by Eli's presence, but mostly, I just hate the Patriots.

The primary season is sort of that way for me too. I grew up extremely political. My grandparents are staunch Democrats; my folks are Republicans. I used to care deeply. Since then, I've come to believe that politics are not the best method to change society and have moved my life and my interests in a different, and I think more productive direction. Most years, I don't have a dog in the fight since no one out there really cares about the issue that is most important to me personally (poverty and immigrants' rights). Last election, I participated in the traditional Latin American protest vote of voting "en blanco". I went to the poll, voted, and left the ballot for president blank.

This year has been different. I still don't have anyone that I want to vote for. Ah, but I have people to hate! For specific policy reasons that I'm not going to go into nor defend (save your emails telling me why I'm wrong; we aren't going there), I HATE Hilliary Clinton and Mitt Romney. Violently, violently dislike them; I mean Patriots level hatred. Obama and McCain could be the reincarnations of Filmore and Nixon, and I would still be rooting for them; should either one go up against Clinton or Romney next fall, they have my vote. If they go up against each other, I'm lost. I've paid more attention to politics in the last three months than I had in the last three years combined. And that's entirely driven by my hatred of two of the major candidates. I don't really care who wins, but I sure care who loses.

Sports comes full circle. If you can't have someone you love be in the big dance, having someone you hate at least keeps you interested.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Not letting this get out of hand...

I don't want this post to devolve into a Manning/Brady argument. That being said, it of course, will. ESPN has a really fascinating article ranking the top 10 QBs of all time. It has Johnny U at #1, Brady at #3, and Manning at #5. It seems to be a well thought out piece, but I think it's wrong.

Listen I know Brady has won four Super Bowls (see what I did there?). So did Bradshaw. I know Manning has two MVP awards. He's not Elway yet. I just think it's too early to put these guys in the top 5 of all time. I love Peyton. He's my all time favorite athlete. I can't put him ahead of John Elway yet. Brady might go down as a top three all time guy, or in 20 years, we'll think of him the way we know think of Bradshaw. Great QB, but were you ever scared of him?

I don't know how it is for opposing fans when Manning has the ball, so I can't evaluate that. I personally, never fear Tom Brady. I don't sit around biting my nails waiting for that killer strike. He's just not scary to me. Oh he might lead a scoring drive, but it'll be because of some weak screen pass and a broken tackle. Not the way it was with the big three. I can remember what it was like whenever Marino had it. You knew they would score. Maybe because I grew up with Montana, Marino, Elway, but those guys were terrifying. They could do whatever they wanted. I think Brady and Manning are threatening to make us forget the Masters of the game. That really makes me sad. I'm glad Johnny U tops this list. I like thinking that the ancients are still great. If guys play only to be forgotten, then why are we blustering about Brady and Manning. Our kids will forget them all too quickly.

I've been doing research into particular African tribes this week (don't ask). One of the most fascinating concepts is the African concept of the Ancestor. When one dies, he enters the realm of the ancestors. They control the future and determine the fates of men on the earth. They only retain power, however, as long as someone remembers them. When their fame has gone, they move on to the greater invisible realm where they no longer influence this life. I hope that by so quickly elevating Brady and Manning into the TOP FIVE all time, that we haven't ushered others into the realm of the invisible.

Don't write me and tell me how great Brady is. I KNOW HE'S GREAT. If you miss that, you're missing the point. I'm trying to tell you how I respond emotionally to watching him play. I won't remember him as fear inspiring as the others. It may be the same way for Manning too; I don't know. I'm too invested his success to sit back and evaluate him. Don't take any of this as a knock. It's about memory and legacy and how the greats made us feel at the time. I don't know for sure that either guy should be placed so high, so soon.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Pledge

Demond Sanders (4:30:51 PM): maybe its the coffee talking but we should offer to get eli tattoos if the giants win
Demond Sanders (4:30:54 PM): or something like that
Deshawn Zombie (4:31:02 PM): yikes
Demond Sanders (4:31:25 PM): like peyton would say: you love it
Deshawn Zombie (4:31:32 PM): or better yet, DSRL tatoos
Demond Sanders (4:31:36 PM): NOOOOO
Demond Sanders (4:31:39 PM): lol

Deshawn Zombie (4:31:49 PM): or bet yet, pledge to eat a whole bag of double stuff oreos!
Demond Sanders (4:31:55 PM): done
Demond Sanders (4:31:56 PM): and done
Demond Sanders (4:32:28 PM): that sounds amazing
Demond Sanders (4:32:31 PM): i might do that win or lose

On Shuffle

Here's what I've been thinking about in the world of sports.

I'm still a little sick of the Reds dealing Josh "Hambone" Hamilton. I know own two Reds jerseys of outfielders who play for other teams. The crappy part is, I can't figure out whose jersey I SHOULD buy. I'm going hunting for a Larkin, that's all there is to it. Thanks to Chad for the link. He's my official source of awesome baseball links.

My hopes for open wheel unity and a return to national relevance are dashed again. I get why George did what he did all those years ago. Road racing was killing the CART circuit. Oval racing is more interesting. Unfortunately, it seems that too much ground has been lost to NASCAR. They need to get this deal done.

This article about Jim Caldwell was reassuring. It sounds like Wake Forrest was an outhouse for football. He did take them to a bowl which is impressive. The no cursing thing reminded me of my high school baseball team. I had a great coach at Pike that made us all conduct ourselves with pride. Profanity meant that the whole team had to run. That team was incredibly successful, and my senior year we set 19 school records. I later attended a private college where the atmosphere should have been even better. It wasn't. The difference in environment and attitude was striking. That team won about 5 games. I'm not drawing any larger conclusions, mind you. I'm just saying that I enjoyed playing in a strict environment, and our team had more discipline and more success. I had always been taught that profanity was for unintelligent people of a limited vocabulary, but of course that my Dad who said that, and he has quite the mouth so take that for what it's worth. Let's not have a long discussion on how this would play out in the NFL. It's obviously a different situation.

Finally, I'd love to get my hands on this document. I love stats and would like to see them. I think part of the fallacy that they are pushing is that Clemens was normal. HGH is supposed to heal your body and aid recovery. His career was far from normal and lasted far longer than almost anyone else's. I want to see the stats, but I remain markedly unconvinced.

Oh, and here is the single best thing I've ever seen on CHFF

I saw this tour pre-911, and it was the coolest thing I've ever been to. I heard it was even better afterwards. I get chills watching this again. I've heard U2 play in front of 80,000 in Buenos Aires where everyone knew every lyric to their songs despite the fact they didn't speak English. They've had a lot of great nights, but I doubt they were ever better than this.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Taping the Hoosiers

I never would have gone to the trouble of recording a Hoosiers game to watch a couple of hours late before, but in this season of multiple blackouts, I'm relishing any tube time I get with them. Since I have a work event from 1-4 today, I'm going to record the game. This is relevant for two reasons: 1. IU is must see TV for the first time in a long time and 2. They seem like they are barely ever on. It's a perfect storm of crapiness.

UPDATE: Well, that was a lousy effort. I'm too mad to even write anything. Sampson let that game get out of hand early after the 9-0 lead. The team started playing like they were up 20, and he didn't reign them in. I'm too mad to even write anything coherent right now.

In other news:
Here's a great piece about Super Bowl rings. Scroll down for Vinatieri's story behind his LXI ring.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Dead in the Water

The Blue and Gold dropped another one last night. At some point, you have to be at an utter loss to explain this team. Unfortunately, they are built around a star with bad knees and a point guard who has made a career out of being inconsistent. They traded guys with real talent who caused trouble for a collection of junk. Just a month ago, they were a virtual playoff lock, but after losing almost constantly, they find themselves tied for the 8th spot, and just a half game out of 10th. Hollinger is still apparently smoking crack, because he thinks they have a 67% chance at the playoffs. If they can ever manage to win 3 of 5, maybe I'll buy that. It's not like I'm setting my standards real high here. I suppose my final evaluation is: they suck just enough to suck, but don't suck enough to have a shot at Eric Gordon. That's about as bad as you can suck.

Links: comes through with a nice interview with Dungy. He seems surprised there was any controversy this week.

Yet one more reason that 'Pro-Bowl Appearances' are a lousy way to judge players. Antoine Bethea just made his first pro bowl due to an injury to Troy Polamalu. Listen, Bethea was great this year, and a very deserving player. I'm thrilled for him. But it's getting ridiculous. Every day, a couple of more players beg off. Everyone wants to be a Pro Bowler, but no one wants to actually play in the game. This should tell us something.

Do you still think steroids don't help players? Do you still think it's no big deal? Watch this video and then tell me that 'roided out players are legit. Dan Naulty isn't a hero for telling the truth, heroes don't do this crap to begin with. I do think he's figured out how to finally be a man, though, and that is something to be proud of. The most any of us can do in life is look our family in the eye, and admit we were wrong without excuses or qualifications. Good for him. Thanks to friend of 18to88, Chad, for this link.

It bothers me too, Bill. I showed up hours early to watch McGwire and Bonds take BP. I hate that they lied to us.

Al Davis is so far off the reservation that he's practically in Canada. This guy has taken utter and total leave of his senses. This is the goofiest thing I've ever heard. I don't know if Lane Kiffin is a good coach or not. For that matter, NO ONE DOES. He hasn't had enough of a chance. Davis drafted him a resignation letter? To hire Denny Green? Whaaaaa?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fun from the mailbag...

Frequent emailer Bob M chimes into today:

This one is intended to be funny and as such I think it's pretty good. Cook, a Chicagoan, is usually very supportive of the Colts. Clearly he's as fed up with the Favre-love in the media as anybody.
You know, since the Colts lost I have added minimum 20 hours a week back to my life for the little things, like work productivity, reading, sleeping. I would have preferred three more weeks of sleep deprivation and 2 a.m. Internet searches for the latest, but sometimes the fans need downtime too. Enjoy the off-season.

He also threw us this Boston/NY link.

Joel gives us this gem:
Wow...Mad Jack has a coaching tree!
Speaking of coaching trees, it's hard to pinpoint where you put Jack...he was Ditka's conditioning coach with the Saints; then Billick's LB coach with the Ravens; then Fox's D Coordinator with the Panthers. Hmm...I'd venture to say that it was under Billick that he first made his name, which would technically put him in the Dennis Green tree. Which would make him just one branch away from Tony Dungy. Holy crap.

I love Wikipedia...a couple facts I never knew about him:

1) His middle name is "Lebron." Can that really be true?
2) He retired when he lost his starting job to rookie linebacker Zach Thomas.
3) Mad Jack's college roommate was Sean Salisbury.
The Jags apparently did not exist from 2000-2003

Thanks man, that is amazing stuff. Lebron, huh? Sounds like a new nickname is brewing...I don't know...King Jack? As for the Dungy/Del Rio connection, they do have one, but I can't remember it. I remember when he was first hired in Jacksonville, that Tony always gave him big hugs for some reason. They know each other well from somewhere, but the link is escaping me. Can someone help me out on this? Did Mad Jack play LB for Tony in Minnesota or something? Could King Jack be the bastard child of the Dungy coaching tree? Say it ain't so...

UPDATE: It's TRUE! King Jack did in fact play for Tony in Minnesota! There goes the "coaching tree" argument for Tony making the Hall of Fame. Jack Del Rio in your tree sort of ruins the whole concept. Lovie Smith would have to win about 3 titles before he would make up for that...

Here's a good piece by John Clayton about franchise QBs...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Shut Up

I've said it before and I'm saying it for the last time. It's the day after Super Bowl XLI and I come to you from the future. I inform you that the Colts will lose the following players for most or all of the 2007 season:

Cato June (Starting LB)
Nick Harper (Starting CB)
Jason David (Starting CB)
Dominic Rhodes (Starting RB)
Tarik Glenn (Starting LT)
Booger McFarland (Starting DT)
Rob Morris (Starting LB)
Dwight Freeney (All Pro DE)
Marvin Harrison (All Pro WR)

They also lose key contributors Brandon Stokley and Terrence Wilkins. How many games would you have predicted the Colts would have won? 7 or 8?

Try 13 games and a random back-breaking fumble from a return to the AFC title game. You don't think Tony Dungy is a brilliant head coach capable of doing the impossible? You just witnessed an amazing season and you don't even know it.

Editor's note: To those who the above rant is directed (you know who you are): this rant should ideally be read while listening to Cake's "Shut the ---- Up."

Loose links

Don Banks is unnecessarily confused. I'm not sure why he would have a tough time understanding the Colts' coaching situation. People are way too worried about down the road. This year, 2008, the issue is settled. If Tony comes back in '09, which no one expects him to, then there will be an issue. Let's burn that bridge when we come to it.

ESPN has a goofy list of the best QB performances in the Super Bowl. It's dumb crap that I don't really want to get into.

Last night on PTI, they were ranking the play of the QBs this post season. The idea was to show that Eli Manning has been the best. I'm not going to argue with the point, but as he rattled on he came to Peyton Manning who he described as "throwing for 400 yards, but was shaky". And that's why I've stopped watching TV. Ok, Wilbon, whatever. I'm not sure why I'm passing that story along other than Demond thought it was funny and said I should.

Sarah from Terre Haute wants everyone to vote here. To the Zombiemobile!

Shoot the messenger

I am in an odd position today. I sort of agree with Bob Kravitz. Let's be clear. I think this article is a hatchet job by a man who sees the chance to grab the national spotlight. Bob will be called to do radio shows and interviews, and maybe even PTI(!) where he can spout his opinion. He'll preen, and act like he's uncomfortable. He'll mention that everyone loves Tony Dungy (even though Bob doesn't agree with him about everything!). Then he'll quietly rip him and call him a hypocrite. I think that's deplorable and opportunistic.

Having said that, I don't think Bob's questions are unfair. Tony opened himself up to this. Listen, I don't know the details of his situation. I don't know his family. I do know something of what Tony believes and advocates in a very public manner. I do know that Tony has put himself in a position to receive this kind of examination. It doesn't come with the territory of being an NFL coach, but does with being any kind of spiritual leader in the Christian community.

I am also in a position where almost my top work related goal is to get men to be better husbands and fathers. It's a mantra with me. Because of what I do, I recognize that this starts with me and my life. Tony and I live in very different kinds of places. I live in a dangerous slum; he lives in a gated community. This mere fact changes things for us. I have made it a life rule that I only travel twice a year without my family. I have kids under the age of 4, and live in a place where my wife lacks many conveniences (dish washer and clothes dryer, just to start). It wouldn't be fair of me to say that my rules should apply to Tony. Our wives face different challenges each day. But I do know that if my job required me to be away from my family with great frequency, I'd quit. Tomorrow. I couldn't be a good example to men of how to care for my wife and kids if I wasn't there. And I can't preach what I don't practice.

Again, let me be clear. I'm not drawing a one to one comparison. I'm NOT saying that Dungy is a hypocrite, a bad father, or anything else. It may be that his family will be less stressed, more happy, and better off living in Tampa while he commutes. It certainly sounds like they have taken certain steps to ease the strain that would not be available to the rest of us. I AM saying that he has left the door to criticism open, especially should he continue on after this year. If this really is it, then I don't really have a problem with his decision. If this is going to be a lifestyle, then I think it's questionable.

Is it fair to question a man for his life choices? If he asks you to, then yes. I don't think Kravitz has been fair; I think he's slimy, but it doesn't make him wrong. I'm uncomfortable too.

Demond Sanders: I think this is a bizarre column. Tony Dungy is a man who doesn't make decisions lightly. He is doing what he thinks is right. That's all I ask for out of a man. It is inappropriate for Bob Kravitz or anyone else to question how Tony raises his family.

You argue that because he is a Christian leader and works with the All-Pro Dad program he leaves himself open to criticism. I suppose that is true - he has put himself out there. But that doesn't make it right when people take that opportunity to criticize him.

Would you like it if I used this space to criticize your parenting style? Or decisions you have made regarding your family? After all you have put yourself out there, like Tony has. Of course you wouldn't like it. I could say well, gee, DZ it sounds like you put your family in a dangerous situation. That may not be best thing for the kids or your wife. But you are a man who doesn't make decisions lightly. That's all I ask of people. Only a cheap-shotting punk would publicly criticize how a man raises his kids.

If Bob really cared then he should have left it in private. Tony responded to his criticism by assuring him that he had carefully prayed and considered the issue. It should have been left there, but Bob has papers to sell. You could see this coming from miles away. Bob's been pro-Colts for too long. He was waiting for a slip-up in the playoffs to go back on the attack. This is the second time he's criticized Dungy's fathering in his columns. I think the Star should make sure it is the last time.

DZ Replies: Wow, those are amazingly good points. And you're right. Just because someone is open to criticism doesn't mean you have a green light to commit character assassination. I feel bad for all the divorced dad's who can't be with their kids every day, who Kravitz just implied aren't good fathers and don't put their families first because they can't be with their kids every day. I guess my problem has nothing to do with Tony as a father. I only question whether he can be an effective role model (a role he has invited). Dungy is living a life that is impossible to imitate for most men. Most men with job pressures can't fly a private jet home. I'm certain that Tony is making the right choices for his wife and kids. Demond put it well; he makes serious decisions. If he hadn't taken time off to think about this, we wouldn't even be having this conversation. He could have moved right on with his life, and most of us wouldn't even realize the family had moved. Tony has tried to make his life about more than just HIS family, however. My question, and uncomfortability, lies with whether or not he's putting in jeopardy his ability to serve as a functional role model. Not because he's not a good father or husband, but because he's living a set of circumstances so far removed from the rest of us, that no one could really try and live like him. That's what makes me a little sad. We all, myself very very much included, need men to imitate and show us how to live.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The biggest non-story...

I have to tell you folks, I knew it all along. I don't claim to know what was really going on with Tony's son and the Tampa high school. I don't know Tony nor any of his family or confidants. I just didn't seem like he was done. All year, he's seemed energized and enthused. It seemed like if he walked away after this year, he'd just be coming back later on in his life, and I don't think that's what he wants. I'm sure Tony really did take time to evaluate his life like he said, and I'm not questioning the very real process of prayer that he and his family engaged in. I'm just saying, it wasn't time yet. Had the story of his son not broken in the Tampa papers, I have a feeling this press conference would have had about the same footnote feel that last year's did. Sometimes, a little information is worse than none at all, ask yahoo sports or whatever internet jackhole it was who tried and put 2 and 2 together and read Caldwell's decision to not pursue other jobs as an indication that Tony was done.

I believe that Tony Dungy is one of the top three coaches in football. I've seen him beat some of the best coaches around, and only put Belichick and Fisher on his level. I believe he's a sure fire Hall of Famer some day. I believe that he is the single best coach to coach this particular team.

I'm glad he's coming back.

Now let's get about the business of winning another ring. That's how you go out.

Lenny P weighs in saying that Tony is good for the NFL.

John Clayton expects a similar kind of effort from Tony as he gave this year.

In other news, Peyton gives some advice to Eli.

And...hope springs eternal...

Monday Links

Just a couple of things I saw here and there...

Irsay thinks Tony is coming back. I don't think that's much of a surprise.

CHFF compares Favre and the Manning Family

They also declare the Chargers to be the Pats' number one rivals in the AFC now. I think that's jumping the gun. The Chargers were clearly better than a Colts team that couldn't rush the passer, but this is always the problem with these guys. They ignore context all together. Yeah, the Chargers won both games this year, but by a total of 6 points. Next year, the Colts will field a team with two defensive ends. I think that will make a difference. Furthermore, the Colts played the Pats a whole lot better than SD did in either of their losses. If the statement had been that the 2007 Chargers were better, I think that would be true. They beat us twice in close, freaky games. But going forward? It's sort of splitting hairs since SD is a top flight team, but it's a hilarious opinion with no basis in fact. Sigh, I suppose that's just what you get from them.

Dr Z. thinks Tony made a mistake. I 100% disagree. It's true that the Colts could have kicked on 4th down with 2:06 to play, but that would have changed things...
1. The Chargers would have started their drive inside the 2 minute warning after the kick off. As things stood, the Colts had plenty of time and a time out to drive. Two dropped passes killed their chances, but time to score wasn't the issue.
2. Norv might have thrown if the Colts had only needed a FG to win. You can't say, hey, we stopped them so that would have worked out the same. Knowing that a first down would win the game, he surely would have tried a pass play. That was bad news for us all day. Then again, it was Norv, so you never know.
3. AV was shaky all year. I'm not sure that banking on a long FG to win it was going to work any better.
4. I sleep better knowing we had at least one more good look at the endzone. If you kick there, you run the risk of never seeing the ball again. I couldn't have been ok with that.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

NFC Championship Game Blog

This game is insanely cold. Here's hoping it's a classic. We could either see a Favre v Brady, Good v Evil deal, or a rematch of last month's classic Pats/Giants game. Can't lose either way...

  • It's hard not to like Plexico Burress when he's healthy. Eli picks up a couple of big first downs early by going to him. I watch Rivers, and I watch Eli, and I almost always think Eli looks like he has the higher ceiling.
  • I said all season that Eli was not the problem with the Giants. I think it's pretty clear that Jeremy Shockey was. His gutless route running was killing his QB. He went out and this team plays better. Also, Brandon Jacobs is the slowest starting RB in football.
  • The Pack holds up in the red zone and the Giants take a FG. That has to be an encouraging start for the Giants. Anytime you start inside the 20 and get points, it's been a successful drive.
  • The Packers respond by going 3 and out. These flanker screens are not fooling the Giants even a little. The football must be like a brick. Punts aren't going anywhere.
  • Nice hands, Toomer. The Giants dropped over 50 passes this year. How can you judge a QB with receivers like that?
  • I know it's cold, but I'd like to see the Giants go for it here. Take control and announce you intend to win this game. Punting is an idiot option as Feagles just proved. GO FOR IT!


  • You have to love the Giants D early. They have clearly given their team the momentum. The Giants have had two offensive possessions and managed to move the ball at least some. I know it's obvious, but turnovers will decide this game.
  • Watching the Giants move the ball, you have to get the feeling like unless someone does something stupid, Eli is going to the Super Bowl
  • A dying Yoda whispers...There is...another...Sky...Walker...
  • Aikman describes Giant RB Bradshaw as "quicker than Jacobs and just as physical"...ok, then why is Jacobs still playing at all?
  • Meanwhile, the Giants offense decides to completely implode here starting with a really bad false start penalty.
  • As much as I love Sam Jackson and Hayden Christensen, Jumper does NOT look good. I actually watched Episode 3 today. My 16 month old has a cold, so we watched it together. I love that movie. But, not so much.
  • Wow, Tynes slips one through. The Packers need points in a hurry. Two scores could be too much tonight.
  • Robinson muffs the kick off, and it really looks like the Pack is coming unglued. Favre needs some magic, like now.
  • Lol. I'm a freaking prophet. Can you say BLOWN COVERAGE??? How do you press Driver at the line without having any safety help? Someone was asleep at the switch on that play.
  • Demond IMs: Touchdowns, not field goals. Well said, bro.
  • HA-UGE pitch and catch from Manning to Burress. That's the way to hang onto a pass on 3rd down.
  • That looked to me like the contact came early. The replay made it look closer than I thought.
  • 3 passes and a punt will follow. Anything over 30 yards on a punt is a great effort today. Someone is going to break one of these ducks long.
  • The Pack seems to have figured out that you have to pass downfield on a day like this. They've abandoned the screens in favor of more medium length routes. The Giants D went from dominant to back on their heels real fast.
  • Good and bad Favre are inhabiting the same physical point in space and time right now. The paradox might cause the universe to implode upon itself.
  • Ah, there's some running again!
  • All the good Giants had done early in the game has been undone by penalties and one major brain lock on defense.
  • Tough call on 3rd down gives the Pack a first down. Aside from the one big play, they still aren't inspiring confidence.
  • Every Favre pass is alternately brilliant or terrifying. A Pack TD here before the end of the half would be crushing for the Giants. Still, they get the ball to start the 3rd quarter, so they aren't in awful shape.
  • Pierce SHUTS DOWN the screen with a man hanging off of him. Great play, and as of yet, none of the Pack screens are working well at all.
  • Manning needs to come up large here and get this game down to one before the half.
  • Huge pass to Burress has the Giants thinking points. There is no question, the man is tall.
  • OOOOOH Burress drops the perfect pass from Manning at the 2. I'm shocked the Pack let him get open that deep.
  • The line fails again, and the Giants fail to convert the big play into points.

Tough, hard fought half. I still think the Giants are playing better, but someone will have a big turnover to change this game before it's done.


  • The fans can boo those calls, but both were really no brainers. I'm still not convinced that Jacobs is an NFL quality starting RB.
  • This drive shows that even if you don't run all that effectively, the act of running can still help an offense.
  • This is a great drive by the Giants, but only if they turn it into a touchdown.
  • This is 4 down territory. Jacobs is a beast size wise, if he can't get this, he shouldn't be playing.
  • Heady play by the rookie Boss to bail out Jacobs. Seriously, at this point, what is Jacobs doing for this offense?
  • Thanks to a series of offsides penalties, the Giants finally got it down to a distance that Jacobs could convert...about 2 inches. Nice.
  • The Giants can't stand prosperity, and give up a big return. It seems all GB has had to hang in this game is a series of freakish big plays.
  • Yikes. Sam Madison's moronic penalty leads to a Pack TD. Seriously, Favre is alternating between near picks, and TD passes. Just about anything can happen in this game.
  • The big returns continue. I suppose this shouldn't really surprise me, since I said they were going to happen about 2 quarters ago.
  • Ahmad Bradshaw illustrates why I've been questioning the sanity of the Giants running Jacobs so much.
  • Huge catch by Toomer was just barely in bounds. If Eli and his band of misfits can do this to the Packer corners, what will Brady and Stallworth and Welker do? I leave Randy Moss off the list as he's apparently decided to stop playing in the post-season.
  • Eli is carving this team up. The Giants have serious rhythm on offense now. We are a Favre pick away from this thing being over.
  • Huge play (or two plays if they are smart) for the Packers as we start the fourth.

4th Q

  • Favre. In Lambeau. Below zero. Down three. Fourth quarter. For the Super Bowl. Gotta love it.
  • Good Lord. That's the sickest thing I've ever seen.
  • Favre and Brady just ooze clutch sometimes. For frick's sake.
  • Well, the Pack survived the pick, but it feels like the whole scenario gut-punched the air right out of them. Again, the screen...NOT WORKING. At any rate, we have a tie game.
  • With the ball on the 40, this game is on a platter for the Giants. They've been the better team all night, and now they need to lower the hammer. This has been a great game, and depending on what Eli goes on to do in his career, it'll be remembered as one of the classics.
  • Tremendous hook up by Eli on 3rd down after his primary reciever got knocked down. That was a big time play. Anyone who watched these two games today can see that he is MARKEDLY better than Phil Rivers.
  • What a great shot of the paint getting knocked off the helmet of Bradshaw. That was one of the coolest football shots I've ever seen.
  • This is four down territory, but I bet Coughlin would punt. You have to go out and win these games, and not just let the other team lose them. I would not willingly give the ball back to Favre with the score tied. With only one timeout, Favre could drive them downfield and kill this clock.
  • Toomer drops another huge pass AND picks up a penalty. Nice.
  • Huge play by Bradshaw to set up the 4th down we just discussed. He gave them a chance.
  • So here we go! Tommy grew a pair.
  • HUGE play. The Giants complete the pass, and it would have been close to the mark, but a penalty guarantees the first down.
  • Great play by Al Harris on the underthrown ball to Burress. He comes up limping, and the Giants should go right back at him, but instead run the ball to set up 3rd and medium.
  • Tynes yaaks the kick and now it's Favre time. I bet the Giants don't see the ball again.
  • I've heard the Mannings occasionally take a hunting trip together in the offseason. My bet is they go kicker hunting. Hard to kill Tynes though, that was not an easy kick in these conditions.
  • The pressure forces #4 to check down on 3rd and 10. So I'm wrong, the Giants will have a chance to stun the world.
  • Jacobs shortens the game with a couple of runs. The Giants seem to come up with a limping lineman on every play. The Giants MUST get this first down. I'd even go for it on 4th. I just don't think you can give the ball to Favre at home. The refs will step in if nothing else.
  • Eli picks up the first down on the sneak. Big Blue has to feel good right now.
  • Or not. Three ugly plays in a row will lead to a punt. KGB blew off the line just on the count and ended the drive. Favre has 2:48 and 1 time out to cover about 55 or 60 yards.
  • A false start really puts it to the Pack. They need at LEAST a first down, or they will lose this game in regulation.
  • The Pack runs a give up play. Favre has come up VERY small in the fourth quarter of this game. It seems like his INT cut his heart out, even though they got the ball back.
  • FUUUUUUMBLE! The Giants recover eventually, but not before they lose more than 10 yards they desperately needed.
  • Wow, a potential game winning TD is erased on a hold. Again, did anyone notice Bradshaw's burst? Why were they playing Jacobs again? The Giants will be lucky to get one first down here. There's a pretty fair chance we are going to overtime.
  • What a huge throw by Eli to pick up the first down by a chain link. Archie is dying. I'm sure he's thinking, "Why do they always have to be like this?"
  • Why does Joe Buck want this called incomplete so bad? "There's no doubt that ball was moving!" Um, yeah, Joe. There is doubt. What is your deal?
  • What a great throw by Eli again. He's been huge all day. It's all on Tynes now.
  • Holy crap. I'm having flash back nightmares. I don't really care who wins, other than I think the Giants have been better, but I feel sick somehow.


  • The Packs wins the toss. This time I won't say that Favre will just win the game, becuase I've said it twice now, and he's done jack crap. Sure enough, he'll come out and throw one pass for 99 yards and a score.
  • I just caught this link off a Cardinals fan blog. He thinks maybe they ought to cut Edge already. I hurt for him.
  • FAVRE THROWS THE PICK. He has officially been AWFUL for the last 18 minutes of game time. Surely, SURELY, the Giants can put this away.
  • OOOOOH! I was yelling for them to go for it, but Larry Tynes BURRIES the 47 yarder to stun the Cheese Heads. Good for the Giants. They were the better almost all night.

AFC Championship Game Blog

As we sit about half way through the 3rd quarter of the Pats Chargers game some things become clear.
  • The Chargers' offense isn't bad, but Phil Rivers isn't the same QB when under pressure. NE has done a good job closing in on them in the red zone, and still leads despite two fewer scoring drives.
  • The weather is only partly to blame for the Pats struggles. SD has a really good defense.
  • If the Chargers come with 5, Brady has problems. Whenever they drop back and rush 3, he cuts them up.
  • NE will have to turn the ball over a couple of more times if SD is going to win.

NE/SD Q3 5:30

  • The Chargers D looks tired. They shouldn't be physically tired, but I think that playing NE can wear out a D emotionally and mentally.
  • WOW. Brady throws another huge pick. Listen, the Pats might win this game, but hopefully everyone will realize now how great Manning was last week. I said the Chargers needed two more turnovers to win. There is number one. Brady has now killed the Pats first two drives this quarter with picks.
  • The Chargers eschew the run after a big gainer, and have to punt. Still, they changed the field position after a big kick. They'll have to make at least one more huge play on defense.
  • The Pats let the clock run out on the third. All things considered, it was a missed quarter for the Chargers. They picked Brady twice and only got three points to show for it. Still, one more 3-0 quarter and they go to the Super Bowl.

4th Q.

  • Great cutback run by Marooney (haven't said that much this year). The Chargers look like they are dead on their feet. This team looks gassed. They must stop the Pats with only a field goal. I can't see them scoring twice to win this game.
  • Pats pick up the blitz, Brady hits Welker and this game is over.
  • Rivers continues to hit passes, but he throws in such slow motion. The Chargers are a deep and talented team. I'm still not convinced he's not the weakest link on that team.
  • Rivers completes a huge pass on 3rd and 10. The Chargers have forgotten completely about the run. They need to balance things up a little more.
  • Seriously, this is the problem with Norv. Three more incompletes and a punt? We've been waiting for him to screw this team, and it finally happened. That was unconscionable play calling. The Chargers have run the ball effectively all game, and suddenly act like they down 21. Norv just cost his team big time.
  • Marooney gets the corner easily. I'm not sure how a team that owns ToP can be tired, but the Chargers look slow now. Just as a type that, they get the huge sack. They are still on life support...
  • I just checked the ToP and the Pats are winning it, but it was close until this drive
  • And that's why BB is a great coach and Norv isn't. The Chargers faced 3rd and 10. Threw long and punted. The Pats faced 3rd and 10, made it a manageable distance and then converted on 4th down. Horrible job, Norv. You are who we thought you were.
  • Brady kept this game close, but NE was clearly the better team today (and all year). Today showed why QBs are so important, but why they are overrated at the same time. Phil Rivers is not good enough to take the Chargers all the way (at least not banged up). At the same time, Tom Brady played quite poorly, but his team was superior and they won. Football is a team game. His team is now one game away from being known as the unquestioned single best team of all time. He'll probably have to play much better than he did today for it to happen though.
  • The two biggest shocks today have to be SD inability to stop the run in the second half, and Norv's insane brain fart that led him to only call only 6 runs in the second half. Those five runs netted 25 yards, but somehow Norv thought it a good idea to put the ball in the air 14 times. I'm not sure what he saw, but it cost him the game.

I'll be back later with the Giants/Packers

The Problem is, Bob...

there aren't any good candidates out there. Bob Kravitz stretches hard to come up with something to write about today, positing that the Colts should go through an interview process, ala the Rooney Rule, just to see who's out there. The problem is that he's overlooking the facts:

1. The minority candidates getting interviews per the Rooney rule? Jim Caldwell and Ron Meeks. Has anyone else heard another name tossed about? So, both the top minority candidates are from the Colts. Tony Dungy has managed to foster the first legitimate tree of mostly black coaches (Rod Miraneli is his too). He should go to the Hall of Fame just for that. It's a historic achievement that has benefited football and society.

2. I assume he's insinuating the Colts would find a better coach among the white guys out there then. If that were true, then why do none of the teams that are currently coachless want to hire anyone? The only hot name was Jason Garrett, and he's off the market. Sorry, Bob. I don't see it. He says the Colts might stumble upon a hidden gem, ala Mike Tomilin. Hidden gem, Bob? Everyone knows the white guys out there...they aren't blowing anyone away. The black guys are all Colts. I just don't see it.

3. Why insult a top candidate by bringing in a series of unknowns? If you invite a bunch of guys with no experience that no one has ever heard about to interview (we already covered the known, experienced guys above), what are you telling people about your confidence level in Caldwell? It just doesn't make sense. If you think this is the guy, and there are no other choices that beg for your attention, then go with it. If someone, Kravitz included, wanted to give me another name to consider, that'd be one thing. Instead, those few that argue against Caldwell aren't' arguing FOR anyone. So Bob, if you don't like Caldwell...give us another name. If you can't, then get in line. The purpose of the Rooney rule is to make sure that black coaches got a chance. Thank God, for the first time in NFL history, a black man is seen as the natural, unquestioned successor to another black man to become an NFL head coach. This is a historic hire that should be questioned only if there was a seriously amazing candidate floating out there that was being ignored. There isn't. I wish Bill Walsh was sitting around waiting to be the Colts next coach. He's not, so I can live with this and feel good about it.

He also criticizes Tony Dungy in the piece (aside from his need to restate that he doesn't agree with Tony on everything. All right. We get it, Bob. You've written that same line in every column about Dungy for 10 months now). He says that Dungy would have "a conflicted mind". Personally, I think that a coach who knows he only has one season left in his career (not in his job, but HIS CAREER), would be hell-bent on winning. Tony wants to go out right. The team will want him to go out right. Seems like a perfect scenario to me. Of all his weak efforts, this piece was one of his weakest. The jist of it is, "The Colts would be better off with a mythical mystery coach that no one has ever heard of and may not even exist than with either a Hall of Famer or his specifically groomed and trained replacement". Nice work, Bobby. Next time, try. A little.

Tonight's NFC game should be fun to watch and fun to root for. Like most Colts fans, I'd like to see Eli do well, but my grandmother lived a block from Lambeau in Green Bay. Either way, I'll have someone to care about in the Super Bowl. I'll be blogging this game tonight.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Just like we thought

Jim Irsay confirmed that Jim Caldwell will be the Colts next head coach. It's only a matter of when. This comes as no surprise to any of us. Caldwell withdrawing himself for consideration for other jobs was a clear sign that the Colts had made some kind of commitment to him.

Again our official position is: who knows? Jim Caldwell seems to be as good a choice as anyone. He's bright. He knows the players. He promotes stability in a system designed around doing things the 'Colts way'. I don't look at any of the 'high profile' coaches and say, "WE HAVE TO HAVE HIM!" in the same way I did when Tony Dungy became available. Seriously, who else could the Colts bring in? Marty? God forbid. Brian Billick? Lord, have mercy. Cowher? For a team whose only question each year is "Can we win in January", he wouldn't be that great a choice. His teams were famous for flameouts in January. So without any other sure things available, we'll go on the record as endorsing Caldwell. If he's good enough for Polian and Peyton, he's good enough for us.

Speaking of that, I think it's actually a product of good coaching to lose playoff games. In the playoffs, talent often wins out (except in 2001 when the Patriots were only team I've ever seen to be visibly worse than all three teams they beat-and no Patsrule, that's not a slam. It's a fact, and a compliment). A great coach can squeeze extra wins out of a team that didn't deserve them, but come playoff time, the best teams win out. This year's Colts were a banged up mess in a lot of ways, but Dungy kept everyone from noticing. In the end, they got beat by a good team becuase they couldn't physically generate a pass rush with the talent they had on the field. It wasn't a 'coaching' loss. It was the natural result of the club they fielded. Even Bill Belichick only won with an inferior team once. In 05 and 06, his Pats teams were clearly not the best clubs in football, and he didn't win it all. The Colts need a coach that can keep the coaching staff together (they are the ones training all the young players), not make any glaring mistakes of time management or replay control, keep the team on an even keel, and let Manning run things on offense. Do that, and with the roster they have coming back, they'll be among the favorites to bring home the title again next year.

Cream (and Crimson) Rises

What a big time win by the Hoosiers tonight. The first 25 minutes showed why winning on the road in the Big 10 is tough. Minnesota is always a meat grinder (even for the best IU teams), but when the officials virtually conspire to give the game to the home team (as they do at virtually every Big 10 game), it can be downright impossible. It's easy to focus on all the turnovers, but that's part of playing a pressure defense. Indiana did a great job converting the opportunities they did have. Stemler's 3 made up for his HUGE mistake on defense a possession earlier when he failed to foul Minnesota lummox Tollackson. He's a terrible free throw shooter, but Lance went up in the air and left him open for a nifty reverse layup.

Eric Gordon struggled after being saddled with a bogus third foul, but played large down the stretch, nailing four huge FTs and making a tremendous stop one on one on defense with the Hoosiers up a point and the clock winding down. DJ White continues to show that he is a man playing a boys' game.

I'm not saying that Tubby Smith is a great coach, but I think he's solid to some degree (maybe not by Kentucky standards, but whatever). His move to the Big 10 has elevated the Gophers to level of being a team no one wants to play. This will be good for the conference in the long run.

All in all, this was the kind of win that pays off come March. IU will play a team down the road that will press like the Gophers. For a young team, the experience tonight will pay huge dividends later.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Signing makes sense

The club made a great move by locking up Tyjuan Hagler today. The linebacking play was strong all season, and Hagler was a huge part of that. The backers are one of the best reasons to feel good about next year. When the Colts sign a linebacker (even to a one year extension), it means they really like him. We all know they'll let them go at the drop of a hat.

The Randy Moss thing is getting weird. At first he seemed very believable, but he's changed his story from "I didn't do anything" to "It was an accident". That's just creepy. The #1 most fascinating story this offseason will be what the Pats do with him and/or what he does to the Pats. If they win it all and manage to get rid of him, it'll go down as the single most brilliant offseason move ever (higher even than the Pack taking Reggie White). If he manages to sink this season that he built, the irony, the hilarity, and the I told you so's will be mountainous.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get ready to enjoy one of the handful of times I get to see the incomparable Eric Gordon play this season. Minnesota is a tough place to play, so it should be a good contest. But hey! Comcast is showing the NCAA tournament this year! Just because they love us! God bless you, Comcast Cable. Why are you so very very good to us?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Empty Sea of Blackness

I miss you football. I miss you so. . . much.

I started getting really bored tonight because my wife was forcing me to watch American Idol. Usually right now I'd be looking for articles about the Colts while watching the NFL Network. But that's all over. I canceled my subscription to the NFL Network. I can't even listen to sports talk radio. The only time I think about the Colts is when someone carelessly mentions the Chargers game to me in passing. My own mom kindly explained today that sometimes Peyton just has off days. "He threw for 400 yards! Did you even watch the game?" Sort of. She didn't watch the first half.

Every now and then I'll click on and take a quick look at the latest stories. The stories are strange and unfamiliar. I feel so out of the loop. Randy Moss beat up some chick? What? I should be all over this. This was supposed to be THE WEEK. Instead I'm forced to watch a bunch of freaks who can't sing. My beautiful wife claims that I'm just getting a taste of what I put her through for five months. Now I know why some people drink.

I still say he stays...

There have been reports all over that Dungy is in fact leaving the team, but he's denying that he's made up his mind. I gotta be honest, nothing he's said makes me think he's leaving. I think he put his son in HS in Tampa for football reasons, and because he's probably done after next year. His son would then have to transfer just for his Senior season, and that's unfair to the kid. Tony has said little things that make me think he's coming back. The smart money seems to be the other direction, but when have I ever taken the smart money?

I do buy reports that Caldwell will be the next head coach. He's apparently very well thought of in the organization, and Colts will want someone that will promote stability. Bringing in some new guy who will feel the need to show everyone who's boss doesn't make sense. The stability in the coach staff seems to cry out for a guy who knows the system and how things work.

Demond Sanders: He'll stay. When he sits down and thinks about how far the team came along this year it will get him excited again. This team was probably a year ahead of schedule. That knowledge doesn't make the ridiculous playoff loss any easier to take, but it should be enough to keep Tony around for one more year.

DZ Updates: It seems that the source of the report may stem from the fact that Jim Caldwell withdrew his name from consideration from the Atlanta job. This doesn't mean that Tony isn't coming back. Jim may well have been promised the job next year. The smoothest transition would be to lock up Caldwell by promising him the job no later than the 09 season. My only fear about Caldwell is the horrible record at Wake Forrest. I have no idea what caused that, but I worry about for the same reasons I knew Cammy "Cam-Cam" Cameron would suck because he was a disaster at IU. I'm willing to suspend judgement, but that fear is there. Then again, Norv Turner (like Barry Switzer before him) has proven that if you stay out of the way of a talented team, you can still go far. So who knows?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Looking ahead

Charlie Casserly of CBS previews the Colts offseason, and says that things look bright. I think we all know that and that's why most of us are pretty ok with how things went this season. With all the trauma this team endured, it was mostly held together by chewing gum and bailing wire (and #18). It lost four games by a total of 16 points. No defensive player is over the age of 29. We have no first round pick this year, but really don't have a need at a position that merits one. Tony Ugoh is our first round pick this year, and aside from the one play at the end, he was brilliant in every way. Demond and I are apparently in the minority for calling for the head of Dallas Clark, and I do think it's more likely that they'll let him go next year when they have a first round pick to use on his replacement.

It would have been interesting to see if Mathis and Brock could have provided pressure had they not gotten hurt. Both were playing at an insane level when they went down, and had covered well for the loss of Freeney. But then the DTs that replaced Brock were playing great, so they moved him to end just for the playoff game. It didn't work. Not even a little.

The other major move was the Marvin Experiment which was a disaster. It can't be second-guessed, though. No one really first guessed it. They would have played him earlier if they could have. I didn't hear anyone really say, screw it, just put him on IR (I certainly didn't). So I'm not going to kill the team for that. I hope that Marvin is good to go next year, and when the sad day comes that he plays his last game in blue and white, I hope I know when it is. I want to remember where I was when the greatest reciever in Colts history retires. I forgive you, Marvin. You were just trying to help the team.

As opposed to last season where the whole roster was in flux, the only issue beyond Clark is the two guards. Indy never drafts guards in the early rounds, and rarely pays them big bucks. I say Lilja is gone and Scott stays, but I won't be surprised if both go.

Like always, don't expect any free agent signings. The Colts like their compensatory picks way too much.

As for Dungy, my bet is that he's back for one more year. I think his son's transfer has to do with football. In talking to Bob Lamey in the post game show, it sounded to me like he was coming back. I just don't think he wants to go out like this, though the argument can easily be made that this season was his greatest job as a coach.

The best thing of all...we only have to endure one more season of Corey Simon's contract on our roster! Woo hoo!

Demond Sanders: If you haven't already, check out Kravitz's latest dose of crazy. He's right that the Colts flat out blew that game. No question about it. A more ridiculous loss this franchise will never see. But to suggest that another coach can come in an duplicate Dungy's success is absurd. Dungy was brilliant this season. His style of defense clearly works if the right players are on the field. Polian made sure Freeney would be here to keep it working. He got hurt. That's no one's fault.

Dungy took a team missing two of its three best players pretty far, in my opinion. It's not his fault his offense had three costly turnovers. The team let him down and not the other way around. Losing Dungy would be a major blow to this franchise. If Polian and Dungy stay the course they'll be right back in the thick of the AFC playoffs next year. And that's really all we can ask for, right?