Thursday, January 31, 2008

New York Props / Humble Pie

Back at the end of November, I took a few swipes at the various New York sports teams.
I just want to take a second now to acknowledge I was "slightly" off in my predictions that the Pats would dismantle both NY football teams...since they won by a total of 13 points.
( Put my plate of humble pie here, 2 slices please )

I give the Giants their props on coming back from a tough 0-2 start and a few tough losses to win so many road games and give the Pats all they could handle to make it to the Super Bowl.
I was very happy they beat the Cowboys and quite surprised they outlasted the Packers in
that miserable weather in Green Bay.

They are surely playing inspired football since that tough loss to the Pats.
But after reading this, another nice Greg Garber article on, I can see where the Giants true inspiration came from. Certainly worth a few minutes to read it.

A very good story and timely reminder of real perseverance.

So good luck on Sunday to the New York Football Giants and New England Patriots.
May the better ( and undefeated ) team win.
Enjoy the game everyone !

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


We'd be fools to not to realize that as New England/Boston fans, we have an enormous "kick me" sign on our backs right now. We've got the best team in baseball, football and basketball and all we do is complain about respect. The "we suffered through 86 years of misery" mantra for the Sox has worn off. The lovable "team-oriented" Pats have not endeared themselves to the outside world and the Celts are back to their winning ways of the 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's. Which brings me to the topic of this post...

I was reading a really nicely written article on ESPN by columnist, Gene Wojciechowski, yesterday. The focus of the article was the fact that the Pats do whatever it takes to win which is why they are sitting on a perfect season. As a skimmed through the article, I couldn't help noticing the first comment posted by yet another jealous football fan. It read, "how ironic .. 'whatever it takes, the patriots will win.' 18-0*."

The poster of this comment, "chrisdgunter" is certainly entitled to his opinion, but I am amazed at the childishness of some of the Patriots detractors and their ceaseless efforts to call the Patriots out as cheaters. Yes, the Patriots did cheat as I noted in a post early in the season. Yes, Belichick and the team deserved to be fined and yes it was a stupid and unnecessary move. But given how dominant the Patriots have been this year, isn't it obvious that whatever advantage the taping of the Jets defensive calls in the first game of the season may have given the Patriots had nothing, I repeat nothing to do with their perfect 18-0 record.

Why am I writing this post? I'm not sure to be honest. Mainly because I'm tired of people tarnishing one of the greatest accomplishments in sports history. In some ways, I'll liken this to Michael Jordan detractors that tried to sully his reputation as the greatest basketball player ever (sorry Larry Legend) by calling out his compulsive gambling habits. Those habits may make him less of a likable person but they never got in the way of his talent, drive and leadership.

On a different but related note, I'm amazed that Vegas has the Pats as two TD favorites in the Superbowl. Don't get me wrong, the Pats are definitely the better team and most likely will win, but as my friend Derek says, "on any given Sunday." This was definitely the case in 2001 when a scrappy Patriots team upset the "best team on turf" aka St. Louis Rams. Let's also not forget that the 'Gints' also gave the Pats one of the best games of the season in week 17 - pissing the game away in the last 5 minutes on a senseless Manning INT.

One more question - what do you make of Charger's center, Nick Hardwick's allegations that Dick Seymour is the dirtiest player in the game. More sour grapes by the whiniest team in football?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Poetic Justice

Gregg Easterbrook of ESPN (also a guest columnist for Wired Magazine and The Rebublic) has a weekly column called the "Tuesday Morning Quarterback." It's way too long and some of his jokes have gotten quite stale but for the most part, it can be an amusing read from time to time.

I'm citing Mr. Easterbrook because in his TMQ column, he regularly makes a point of focusing on football karma, particularly as it relates to the way football teams handle themselves on the field. Following this weekend's loss of the number two seed in the AFC (the Colts) and the number one seed in the NFC (the Cowboys) one can't help but think that a bit of poetic justice was served for earlier decisions made by both teams' top brass.

Rewind two weeks to the final game of the NFL season and you'll know what I'm talking about. The fate of the once hapless Cleveland Brown's lay in the hands of one Indianapolis Colts team. All the Browns needed was for the 13-2 Colts to beat a sub-par 9-6 Tennessee Titans team and the Browns were in the playoffs for the first time since 2002. It's true that it was the Brown's that put themselves the tenuous position of needing the Colt's help but that's neither here nor there...

So why does this have anything to do with poetic justice? Well, Indianapolis decided to sit their first stringers after one series in that fateful game against Tennessee, lost by a hair and thus propelled a not-very-good Titans team into the playoffs instead of the Browns. Because the Titans owned the worst record of wild card teams in the AFC, they would play the three seed -- the surging San Diego Chargers -- in the first round of the playoffs. After putzing around for two quarters, the Bolts took charge and dismissed the Titans earning them a shot at the Colts.

Now there's no guarantee that the Browns would have knocked off the Chargers in the first round of the playoffs but on paper, they matched up a lot better than the Titans did. For one, they have a quarterback in Derek Anderson that can actually throw the ball. They also have a bruising running back in Jamal Lewis that would have kept San Diego's fearsome defense honest. Instead, the Browns went home leaving the Chargers to dismiss the Titans, a move that ultimately positioned San Diego to knock off last year's Super Bowl champs.

While Dallas' decision to mail it in on the last game of the season and rest their starters didn't affect the fate of the Minnesota Vikings -- a team that also needed help from the Redskins and the Saints -- the way the Colts did, it could have. The Redskins were playing Dallas, in Dallas, on the last game of the season and on paper, should have been crushed by Big D. Minnesota ultimately made it a moot point by losing to Denver but if they had won, the Dallas game would have upset the applecart. I can't help but think that this played into Big D's surprising loss to the G-men of New York.

To that end, one also can't help but think that the G-men's willingness to man up and play their starters for the entire game against the 15-0 Pats, helped their football karma significantly. Fans around the league universally agree that the Pat's perfect 16-0 record would have been a little less meaningful if the Giants had rolled over for New England in the last game of the season. Instead, Tom Coughlin's decision to play his starters for the entire game -- a game the Giants kept close right up until the end -- ultimately led to positive momentum for the Giants in the next two rounds of the playoffs.

Dallas' and Indianapolis' losses yesterday can definitely be chalked up to the "angering of the football gods." The Giants' and the Pats' wins on the other hand can be chalked up to good football karma. Ditto for the Packers who have one of the all time "good guy" QBs at their helm. Not sure about the Chargers fate yet as in winning the game, they may have lost LT and Phil Rivers for the rest of the season. Only time will tell.

Oh yeah, anyone still wondering if Tom Brady is the best QB ever? I didn't think so...