“When I’m wrong, I’m the first to admit it. The first to admit it. And the last one to know.”
— Paul Simon
The Packers got whupped. And I was wrong, wrong, wrong in picking them to win the NFC Championship.
The Packers got whupped. And I was wrong, wrong, wrong in picking them to win the NFC Championship.
My 49ers are in the Super Bowl? Hell, I don’t think I ever got around to writing about the Giants World Series win last year, and it’s been less than four months since the boys from the bay swept the Detroit Tigers on Oct. 29, 2012.
To a San Francisco fan like me, the past 120 days has been sports Nirvana. But it could turn into purgatory if the ‘9ers lose. They are 5-0 after all, so a perfect record is going to be put to the test.
I plan to watch the first quarter stone sober with a pen in hand, just as I have the last five Super Bowls the 49ers played. Yes, I realize they no longer script the first 20 plays like Bill Walsh used to do, but I’m a creature of habit and don’t want to give way to the jinx. I’m pretty sure I can wait until the second quarter to crack my first beer. (Editor’s note: Turns out I was wrong about that.)
Here’s to 6-0.
• • •
The Super Bowl is where it should always be in my opinion—New Orleans. It’s the perfect way to revive the city that won’t wash away. And there’s only a conflict of interest once every thirty years or so when the Saints are actually in the Super Bowl.
Next year in New York will be a disaster. Or maybe not, since global warming happens.
If we can’t have the Super Bowl in The Big Easy every year, then I say we should restrict the big game to these four cities—New Orleans, San Diego, Miami and Dallas.
Frankly, it’s not likely any of these teams will be in the Super Bowl much either.
• • •
Got my sushi, got my Lone Star beer, got my deer antler spray. Let the game begin. I’ll be keeping a blog and will post after each quarter. My prediction? 44-21, 49ers.
Hey, if you want objective, go read last year’s blog.
Eddie DeBartolo didn’t get elected to the NFL Hall of Fame today, but Bill I’m-so-mediocre-except-for-that-one-year Parcells did.
Don’t get me wrong. I think Parcells should be in the Hall of Fame, just not on the first ballot and not ahead of DeBartolo, Art Modell and Jerome Bettis. I’m fine with the other newly-elected members, which include Cris Carter, Jonathan Ogden, Warren Sapp and seniors Curley Culp and Dave Robinson.
But I’m especially pleased with Larry Allen, former offensive lineman with the Dallas Cowboys. Because Allen wasn’t just a Cowboy, he was a Cossack—a graduate of Sonoma State University.
It’s safe to say that Allen will be the only NFL Hall of Famer to ever attend SSU, since the college no longer has a football program. I think it’s also safe to say that Sonoma State isn’t likely to send even a bench warmer to the NFL. Ever.
The big question is why Allen went to Sonoma State in the first place. It means he didn’t have the SAT scores to get into Stanford, Berkeley or USC. Even worse, it means he didn’t have the common sense to go to Fresno State.
But I’m straying from my main focus here. Whatever happened to Eddie D? Well, long story short, he got taken down by Louisiana politics (as we all do eventually) in some corruption scandal that involved the Governor of Louisiana, riverboat gambling and Eddie D. He gave up ownership of the San Francisco 49ers in 2000, ceding control of the team to his sister Marie Denise Debartolo York.
The York family continue to run the SF 49ers with 32-year-old Jed York as its CEO.
Meanwhile, Eddie D. was elected to the Bay Area Hall of Fame in 2008 and the 49ers Hall of Fame in 2009. He will no doubt wind up in the NFL Hall of Fame some time in the future. It’s not like he’s Pete Rose, after all.
One thing can never be taken away from Eddie D. His 5-0 Super Bowl record as an NFL team owner. No one will ever beat that. Not even a Sonoma State grad.
Just kidding. But if you’re a Green Bay Packers fan, I understand why you might be frustrated. Good thing your team won this time. I mean… last time.
• • •
Okay. I finally got to watch the University of Texas Longhorns. Damn. Who knew quarterback David Ash would come along so well? I didn’t. He’s even throwing the long passes down field.
He’s only 19 years old, you know. I was going to give him one more year before I passed judgment, and I might yet. He should be amazing next year, the year the Burnt Orange of Austin, Texas should be ranked in the top three at the 2013 season’s start.
This year? I don’t know. What happened to the defense? More specifically, what happened to tackling?
Today on local radio, Texas head coach Mac Brown said the tentative tackling was due to the new rules tempering head-to-head contact. Okay. But how about hand-to-thigh contact? If you’re going head-to-head on an open field tackle, you’re messing up from the get go.
We’ll see. The defense seemed like the best part of the Longhorns at the start of the season, and in a way it is. But it’s a specific part of the defense—the pass rush of defensive ends Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat.
The upcoming game against West Virginia will be very telling. For both teams. Best defense wins.
• • •
I wrote the above after the Longhorns defeated Oklahom State. Here’s what I think after watching the Longhorns lose to West Virginia—I think West Virginia could win it all. Geno Smith is good.
Oddly, I thought the Texas defense did well, even though they gave up 48 points. But they also forced two fumbles, one on the goal line that allowed Jackson Jeffcoat to score a touchdown, and got four sacks.
And David Ash did great again, for the most part.
I know, I know. Next year.
• • •
Hey USGA, do you want to win the Ryder Cup? Here’s an idea. Get Ian Poulter American citizenship. You’ve got about 700 days to get ‘er done. Go for it.
• • •
Isn’t the Ryder Cup great? Golf with real crowd noise. Even cheering. And jeering. Love it.
• • •
I think I figured out the problem with the Dallas Cowboys. It’s the quarterback.
Oh. Right. You read my columns to read stuff you don’t read anywhere else. Sorry. Guess I’m piling on.
• • •
Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are the real deal. But I think Cam Newton will be to the Carolina Panthers what Vince Young was to the Tennessee Titans. Too much head hanging there.
• • •
“Team suckage is real. It should be a stat.” Rod Babers, Oct. 9, 2012 on 300 The Zone, Austin, Texas.
If any gangster types are thinking about fixing NFL games, now would be the time. After all, if some of the fill-in refs have been proven to be gushy fantasy-football-playing fans, then it’s likely that some of them could be convinced to take a bribe as well.
Hey, it’s not like these temp refs have a long career to lose, right?
Besides, the NFL is all about gambling—that’s why they play the game. And I’m fine with that, unless the fix is in.
Is the fix in?
I just saw a Green Bay Packer defensive back get mugged on Monday Night Football, yet the refs called him for interference. In fairness, he did block the receiver’s hand with his face.
Seriously, is the fix in?
I don’t gamble on football, professional or otherwise. I prefer to put my money into sure things like beer. You buy it, you drink it, you get a buzz. Every time.
But I might start betting on the NFL, if I can find the right advisors. Connected guys. Guys with diamond pinkie rings and colorful nicknames like Bobby The Hammer or Mickey The Bat or Joey The Guy Who Fixes NFL Games.
Then again, maybe I’m wrong about this thing of ours. Maybe the mob isn’t fixing the games. Maybe it’s some other man, the 12th Man. The crowd. Mob rule. Did you watch the other games this week?
The Titans upset the Lions. At home. The Raiders beat the Steelers. At home. The Vikings surprised the 49ers. Also at home. The Ravens just squeaked by the Patriots, in Baltimore of course, and the Seahawks beat the Packers in Seattle with a Hail Mary pass.
There’s no place like home. With that good home cookin’ and all the fixin’s.
Look. The NFL is right, I’ll keep watching. I watched during strike-shortened seasons, so why wouldn’t I watch during a strike-corrupted season? It’s only a game, right? Why shouldn’t it be hilarious?
By the way, the Vegas spread had Green Bay winning by 4-1/2 points. If that last-second Seahawks pass Monday night is ruled an interception, the Packers win by 5.
Seriously, is the fix in?
Peyton Manning will now play quarterback for the Denver Broncos. They might as well start building the new sign at the border of Denver’s city limit.
“Welcome to Denver, the city where Peyton Manning was paralyzed for life.”
I was hoping Manning would take a long hard look at the big picture and simply retire, the way Steve Young did when he got one too many concussions as a 49ers quarterback.
Manning has a neck injury, nothing to be trifled with. I could be all wrong, but I’ve got a bad feeling about this.
At least the Broncos had the good sense to trade Tim Tebow. Whatever Manning faces in Denver, it won’t be the evangelical, revival-tent, circus-like atmosphere Tebow creates.
Besides, Tebow’s a perfect fit for New York. And yes, I’m being sarcastic.
• • •
I was pretty sure—and really hoped—that Jim Harbaugh wasn’t serious about getting Manning. I think Harbaugh took a long look at Manning just to build up Alex Smith’s confidence.
“Yeah, the GM wanted me to interview Manning, but my heart wasn’t into it,” I imagine Harbaugh saying. “You’re my guy at QB, Alex. You’re my guy.”
I could be wrong about that scenario, but I’m really glad about Smith’s three-year deal with the 49ers.The playoff game against the Saints convinced me he’s finally got the QB position down.
• • •
I didn’t fill in a bracket and I don’t have a final four, but I do pick Michigan State to win the NCAA Basketball National Championship.
My only reason is the faith and passion of MSUCrazyLady. She makes me wanna believe. So I will.
• • •
Frankly, I don’t give a damn about women’s basketball. It’s like watching the Special Olympics, except I actually do care about the Special Olympics.
The female sports I like are soccer (a little) and softball (a lot). Softball is the ultimate women’s sport, but I’ll expand on that topic in another column.
Still, it doesn’t take a lot of paid attention to pick the NCAA Women’s Basketball champion.
Baylor. It’ll be Baylor. And everybody knows that.
• • •
I started this column with Peyton, so I’ll end it with Payton.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Saints’ head coach Sean Payton a full year for allowing a bounty system—payment for injuries inflicted by the defensive players on key offensive players. You know. Key ones, like Peyton Manning.
The former defensive coach of the Saints, Gregg Williams, is on indefinite suspension and New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended eight games.
The Saints as a team was also fined $500,000 and lost two second round draft picks, one this year and another in 2013.
One radio commenter said he wished baseball had a commissioner as strong as Goodell.
Me, too. I want a baseball commissioner strong enough to bring back steroids.
Now that more than two weeks have passed, I think I’m ready to write about the Super Bowl.
Who won again? Right, the NY Giants, 21-17 over the New England Patriots.
But that isn’t the first thing I think of when I think back to the game. No, when I think back to the game, one play stands out above all others.
Danny Woodhead caught a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl. Holy hell.
A newspaper reporter friend of mine, Frank Graham, interviewed Woodhead for his hometown paper, the North Platte Bulletin. Woodhead told Graham he spent his entire football career having to prove himself at every level, from Pop Warner to high school, to college, to the pros.
Woodhead even got to watch himself get cut from the NY Jets on film in the 2010 version of the HBO series Hard Knocks.
But in the second quarter of Super Bowl XLVI, Danny Woodhead caught a touchdown pass. Eat that Jets coach Rex Ryan.
Just kidding, Rex. Looks like you’ve already eaten too much.
Woodhead has been compared to Notre Dame’s Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger at times by, well, me. A little guy by football standards, Woodhead stands 5-foot-8 and 3/4 of an inch, and I’m really not sure if that’s in bare feet or not. He weighs a muscular 195 pounds.
Ruettiger—who stood 5-foot-6 and weighed 165—was a walk-on at Notre Dame who played on the practice squad. Rudy only played in one college football game his entire career, and it was the last Notre Dame home game of his final season.
He stayed in for two plays, and on the second one sacked Georgia Tech quarterback Rudy Allen.
Ruettiger was one of only two football players in Notre Dame history ever to be carried off the field by his teammates following the game. Later, Hollywood made a movie about him.
Danny Woodhead caught a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl. Wonder what they’ll make for him?
A statue in North Platte would be nice.
* * *
Rod Babers—ex-NFL football player, lifetime Longhorn, and broadcaster for 1300 The Zone in Austin—got the opportunity to interview NFL Hall of Fame running back Earl Campbell recently.
The interview will run sometime next week, but Babers did give up one tidbit yesterday during The Sports Buffet drive-time show.
Campbell, who ran like a bull in the streets of Pamplona, would often run over defenders if it meant more yards gained. But one day he got hit so hard by a defender, it made him reconsider his running style altogether. Perhaps he should run out of bounds more, he thought.
So who was the man who knocked Campbell silly? Another Hall of Famer, the late, great Oakland Raiders’ defensive back Jack Tatum, nicknamed “The Assassin.”
Tatum once hit Patriots wide receiver Darryl Stingley so hard he was paralyzed from the chest down. And that was in a preseason game in 1978.
Tatum’s one of the reasons the NFL came up with new rules for legal hits. It only took 30 years.
* * *
Yes, I’ll be getting to basketball soon, both college and the NBA. It’s kind of a March thing for me and B-ball’s not my forte, I’ll admit it. Besides, my background as a short wrestler kind of makes me slightly antagonistic toward the sport.
But I will make one comment about the NY Knicks point guard sensation Jeremy Lin.
I think the big deal with Lin is that he came from Harvard, not that he’s an Asian basketball player.
Growing up, I recall many good or great Asian basketball players in junior high and high school. College? Not so much.
Where do these kids go? Do they just quit? Or do the college scouts overlook them?
I pick the New York Giants to win the Super Bowl. But if they don’t, then my record is intact—every time I bet for or against the Giants, I’m wrong.
Here’s why I’m picking New York after I picked them to lose against Green Bay and San Francisco in the playoffs.
First, Eli Manning really is the elite quarterback he said he was halfway through the season.
Second, that ain’t no 26th-ranked defense. It might have been during the regular season, but during the playoffs it was the third-ranked defense behind the Ravens and the 49ers.
Among Super Bowl contenders, it’s the first-ranked defense for sure.
Tom Brady will play better than he did against Baltimore in the NFC Championships—and look for both Wes Welker and Danny Woodhead to have big games as well—but it just won’t be enough.
The NY defense will harass Brady all day long, Eli will continually find ways to win, and the real difference in the game will be the lack of a healthy Rob Gronkowski at tight end for the Patriots.
True, Gronkowski’s not even on the injury report, but I saw how his foot got bent backwards two weeks ago and I don’t think it’s had enough time to heal. Not good.
So Giants win the Super Bowl, 31-28, and Eli Manning wins MVP.
I’ll update this report during each quarter. Should be amusing. Meanwhile…
• • •
The Associated Press recently handed out honors to NFL standouts during the 2011-2012 season. Here are the results.
Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers won the MVP award, while Saints QB Drew Brees won Offensive Player of the Year. That seems like a fair compromise.
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs won Defensive Player of the Year. I was definitely pulling for 49ers pass-rushing specialist Justin Smith, but Suggs works for me.
Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton easily won Offensive Rookie of the Year. He surpassed Peyton Mannings’s rookie passing record with 4,051 yards, and set a single-season NFL QB rushing record with 13 touchdowns. Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller won Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Lions QB Matthew Stafford won the Comeback Player of the Year Award. How a 23-year-old in only his third season even qualifies for the award is beyond me. My pick, and it’s the right one, was 49ers QB Alex Smith.
Finally, Jim Harbaugh won his well-earned Coach of the Year honors.
• • •
First Quarter Comments:
—First play by Brady leads to a safety.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m no Brady hater, I love the guy. But he ain’t no Joe Montana.
And he’s rattled. Just sayin’.
—With 3:24 to go in the first quarter, the NY Giants are Cruz-in’. See what I did there?
—At the end of the first quarter, NY leads 9-0. I’m also 2-0 on beers to coffee, so if these updates become riddled with typos, you have to let it go.
You have to.
—Best commercial during first quarter, Pepsi’s. I always thought that Flavor Flaves big clock was a euphemism for something else that rhymes.
Second Quarter Comments:
—With 13:40 to go in second quarter, New England hits a field goal. That more than makes up for the safety. Heh.
—Best commercial of the second quarter, goflora.com. You know why. Although I liked the French bulldog commercial by Sketchers until Mark Cuban showed up.
The Doritos commercial was clever, but no cigar. And the Ameritrade commercial? Wrong baby. Sorry, but when you want Charlie Sheen, Ashton doesn’t cut it.
—Wow. Danny Woodhead caught a touchdown pass with eight seconds to go in the half. Did not see that coming. He caught zero touchdown passes during the regular season.
— And at the end of the half, it’s New England Patriots 10, New York Giants 9.
Half Time Comments:
—Here’s hoping for a wardrobe malfunction.
—Best commercial, Bridgestone (Madonna). Sure, it was all prerecorded and lip-synced, but I’ll take that over Roger Daltry’s live off-key performance during Super Bowl XLIV.
—Betty White has jumped the shark. Sorry.
— Whoa. I spoke too soon. Clint Eastwood’s commercial for Detroit—and subtextually for Barack Obama—beat out Madonna’s. Like Woodhead’s touchdown, I did not see that coming.
Third Quarter Comments:
—With a little more than six minutes to go in the third, the Giants hit a field goal. Not good. Every field goal is another score closer to losing (yes, I’m paraphrasing Steve Young).
—The sack of Brady with 5:30 and some change in the third could be the turning point in the game. He might be injured. Beyond that, if the Giants keep up the pass rush the Patriots are doomed. Period.
—With 35 seconds to go in the third, Giants hit another field goal. Not good for NY.
—Best third quarter commercial: The one with Jerry Seinfeld. Advertising what, I have no idea. Honorable mention commercial: The NFL’s.
— And at the end of the third, it’s New England over New York, 17-15.
Fourth Quarter Comments:
—Really? Two time outs burned by the Giants?
—Four minutes to go in the game and WELKER DROPS THE PASS. Unbelievable. That’s your play of the game.
—3:39 to go in the game and Manningham makes a catch. It looked clean in slow motion, but how do you make that call live? NFL refs are amazing.
—Three minutes to go. Run, run, run, Giants.
—Two minutes to go and they give it to Ahmad Bradshaw. Good idea!
—Short pass. Okay. Run, run, run. Good run, Bradshaw. Waste a Patriots time out.
—Uh-oh. Bradshaw scores, so Brady gets the ball with :57 to go. Guess Bradshaw doesn’t know a gimme when he sees one.
—If Brady wants a fourth Super Bowl ring, he’ll definitely have to earn it.
—Just to get this out of the way… best fourth quarter commercial: The Honda commercial with Matthew Broderick. Not the best cause though—I love dogs.
—Great catch by Deion Branch. Keeps the game alive.
—Giants have too many men on the field. That’s a coaching error.
—With five seconds to go, Brady gets one more Hail Mary. He ain’t no Joe Montana and he ain’t no Doug Flute.
—Final score, New York Giants 21, New England 17. Great game.
—And I have to admit, as much as it pains me, that Tom Coughlin is a great coach. Nobody accidentally wins this twice, even with a great quarterback. Ask Don Shula.
Odd, because he reminds me of the elderly crank in my neighborhood who won’t give my baseball back (to this day, in fact). Or the 1800 Tequila guy.
But you have to give it up—two Super Bowl rings are not a fluke. One might be, though.
Let’s ask Brian Billick.
I’m finally ready to discuss the NFC and AFC Championships. In other words, I’m sober now.
It only took 12 days.
Two days ago was National Signing Day, when high school football players commit to colleges. I’m sure I’ll write about that at some point, but if you’re looking for late-breaking news here you’re at the wrong place. I’m more of a bottom-feeder looking for the overlooked morsels.
So. Has anybody talked about special teams yet?
I’m a dyed-in-the-Bay-Area-polyester 49ers fan. I won’t lie. The loss hurt. Here’s how it happened.
First, Eli Manning played tough. He got beat up all day long and still hung in.
Second, on the 49ers last possession they did not dance with who brung dem. They should have given the ball to Frank Gore and let him run, run, run. Beat them in the trenches and tick tock down the damn clock.
Jim Harbaugh made a mistake in game management, in my opinion. Yes, I held that opinion before the call as well as afterward.
The biggest problem? Kyle Williams played. Not his fault. Ted Ginn Jr. was injured, and that turned out to be the difference in the game.
Williams mangled two punt returns, the second one a fumble leading to the game-winning field goal. Enough said.
Still, I feel bad about Williams and all the death threats he’s endured. He doesn’t need that.
He just needs to be traded.
And so does Michael Crabtree. Where was he? He couldn’t get open during the game, not once. Throughout the playoffs, he could barely catch the ball and rarely produced. Who does he think he is, LeBron James?
When Crabtree got drafted, I jumped up and down on the couch like Tom Cruise on a daytime talk show. I saw Crabtree play at Texas Tech, and he was amazing. I couldn’t wait to see what he’d do for San Francisco.
But then he turned diva with his holdout salary demands. And then he went missing during the NFC Championship.
Here’s the plan: Trade Crabtree and pick up Justin Blackmon, a solid first-round draft pick out of Oklahoma State. Like Crabtree, he’s also a two-time Fred Biletnikoff winner for best receiver in college football.
Then cross your fingers and hope to hell he doesn’t go T.O. like Crabtree did.
Tom Brady sucked, but Billy Cundiff sucked more. The end.
The Pro Bowl starts at 7 p.m. on the East Coast, 4 p.m. on the West Coast, and 6 p.m. Texas time, but no matter where you live, we all have one thing in common.
We won’t be watching the damn Pro Bowl.
No, the Pro Bowl is only good for one thing—to show your significant others that you’re not hooked on football.
“Of course I love you more than football, baby. Let me take you out to dinner or to the movies. Yes, yes, I’m absolutely willing to walk out on this game.”
Still, the NFL definitely needs an all-star game, and I’m all for the tradition of sending the leagues stellar players to Hawaii.
Let’s just dump the actual football game.
It’s not like the NBA or MLB all-star games, where upwards of 40 to 60 percent of the players might well be giving their best. This a football game where no one wants to get hurt, so only one percent of the players give it their all.
But who gives a damn about kickers, anyway.
My first inclination was to send the NFL besters to Hawaii for a foosball tournament. No one gets hurt, they all can compete at 100 percent, and you only have to change one letter in the game.
The downside? It’s not very good television, since all you’d see are the player’s hands.
Then I thought maybe a bowling tournament would work. Competitors could even drink during the competition, and there would be a lot of face time in a bowling tournament.
The downside? What’s the point of being in Hawaii if you’re going to stay indoors?
So the answer is the NFL Pro Bowl Golf Tournament, sponsored by Titleist. The NFL could make it a three-day event, starting on Friday and ending Sunday. Think of it, the Hawaiian great outdoors, real competition, and lots of celebrity face time and interviews.
Now that’s something I’d be willing to watch a week before the Super Bowl.
And as to showing our loved ones we care about them more than football, don’t worry. We can always walk out on the East-West Shrine game.