Saturday, January 31, 2009

43 Stops To Super Bowl XLIII: #1-3

The "43 Stops to Super Bowl XLIII" is a series that will feature stories, stats and interesting trivia that you can use to act smart as you prepare for Super Bowl XLIII. I've done this on SPORTZASSASSIN.COM for Super Bowls XL and XLI and for AOL's FanHouse for Super Bowl XLII.

#1-PREDICTION: Okay, here is my prediction. I, personally, will be rooting for the Cardinals. They have the underdog factor, they are a team that you just really can't hate, I tend to root for the NFC (though not all the time) and I'm don't want to hear from the Steeler fans I work with.

Still, I think Pittsburgh will win. I've been saying that the Steelers can play a so-so game and still win. Arizona must play a really good game if they have a chance to win. I know that isn't "breaking anything down", but it is just how I view these things.

For the Cardinals to win, they obviously need to keep being effective on offense. Put pressure on the Steelers to score points. Keep Kurt Warner off his back and Arizona has a great shot.

#2-MIKE TOMLIN WANTS TO JOIN THE CLUB: If the Steelers win Super Bowl XLIII, they will have done so with their third different head coach. Tomlin will join Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher as head coaches that led the Pittsburgh Steelers to a Super Bowl title. Only the Dallas Cowboys (Tom Landry, Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer) can make that same claim. The Giants, Colts, Packers, 49ers and Raiders have all won Super Bowls with two different coaches.

#3-SUPER BOWL VIEWERS GUIDE: Go over to Awful Announcing to find out all the particulars of NBC's all-day coverage of Super Bowl XLIII.

43 Stops To Super Bowl XLIII: #4-7

The "43 Stops to Super Bowl XLIII" is a series that will feature stories, stats and interesting trivia that you can use to act smart as you prepare for Super Bowl XLIII. I've done this on SPORTZASSASSIN.COM for Super Bowls XL and XLI and for AOL's FanHouse for Super Bowl XLII.

#4-SUPER BOWL NEWBIES: As you know, Arizona is making its first Super Bowl appearance. This is the 7th Super Bowl in the last 11 years to feature a team making its debut in the big game. Those teams are the Cardinals (43), Seahawks (40), Panthers (38), Buccaneers (37), Ravens (35), Titans (34) and Falcons (33). Those newbies are 2-4 in the Super Bowl and none have been back since.

#5-RELOCATION IS FUN, KIDDIES: The Cardinals are yet another franchise to make a Super Bowl appearance after relocating during the Super Bowl era. The Colts (Baltimore/Indianapolis), Raiders (Oakland/Los Angeles) and Rams (Los Angeles/St. Louis) have all won Super Bowls in two different cities. Like the Cardinals, the Ravens (formerly Cleveland Browns) and Titans (formerly Houston Oilers) made their first Super Bowl appearance after their move.

#6-JOHN MADDEN HAS HIT ALL THE NETWORKS: John Madden will be the analyst for the Super Bowl on NBC. This means that Madden will have called a Super Bowl on each of the four major networks. He worked for CBS during five Super Bowls, FOX for three, ABC for two and now NBC.

#7-A BIRD OF ANOTHER FEATHER: The Cardinals join the Eagles (15, 39), Falcons (33), Ravens (35) and Seahawks (40) as the only bird-named Super Bowl participants. The Ravens were the only ones to actually win the game.

Friday, January 30, 2009

There Really Aren't Many NBA All-Star Snubs

For the most part, the NBA coaches got it right. In voting for the reserves for each conference's All-Star team, I really cannot find too much of a problem with the votes.

The Eastern All Stars are Allen Iverson, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard, Danny Granger, Chris Bosh, Devin Harris, Rashard Lewis, Jameer Nelson, Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce.

Ray Allen is a tough one and probably more deserving of a spot than either Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce. I don't think that Rajon Rondo is such a gross omission. He's a fine player and all of that but he isn't one of the 12 best players in the Eastern Conference.

I'm also not understanding why people are thinking Mo Williams got snubbed.

There is a bit of difference in the West. Their team features Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Amare Stoudemire, Tim Duncan, Yao Ming, Shaquille O'Neal, Tony Parker, Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, Brandon Roy, Chauncey Billups and David West.

West is an All-Star type player and all, but Al Jefferson deserved his spot. I know that there is this whole thing about "rewarding winning teams" but there is talent all over this league and a one man show doesn't equate to winning. After all, Danny Granger made it on the East side.

I'm just glad that the coaches didn't buckle and vote Steve Nash in the game since it's in Phoenix.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

North Carolina's Mount Rushmore Of Sports

ESPN is doing this thing called the "Mount Rushmore of Sports". Each state will select four people to annoint as the best in that state's sporting history.

I'm going to do a few of these since I've lived in several states during my days. I was raised in North Carolina and still consider Charlotte as my hometown so let my crack North Kakalaka.

MICHAEL JORDAN: Believe it or not, you do pause a bit when deciding MJ. I mean, his biggest successes came while he was in Chicago and you know he'll be on the Illinois' list. Still, there has never been another athlete in the history of that state that is more beloved and respected than Jordan. None. That man is a god in the Old North State.

DALE EARNHARDT, RICHARD PETTY: You would think that one NASCAR guy is enough but you have to put both on the Rush. Petty was the O.G. of the circuit before it went beyond the southern borders. He won 200 races and seven championships. In 1967, he won a record 27 races ... including 10 in a row.

Earnhardt is, of course, his own legend. From his "Intimidator" mystique to his seven championships (a record that he and the King share) to his untimely death, No. 3 was one of the reasons the sport reached out to new areas and a spot with the big boys at the sports' table.

DEAN SMITH: This one was the hardest for me because I didn't want to make it a "UNC" thing by having both Coach Smith and Jordan up there. But I have to. Coach K may pass Coach Smith on the all-time wins list, but some of the wins he put doesn't count in the records. Coach Smith was a key figure in intergrating UNC basketball and the ACC. He played for Phog Allen, coached under Frank McGuire, and coached against John Wooden, Bobby Knight, Krzyzewski, Everett Case and many others.

I wanted to put guys like David Thompson, Enos Slaughter, Arnold Palmer, Mia Hamm or Charlie Justice (the last two are Tar Heels too) up there but I feel these four men are what North Carolina has been made up of.

TENNESSEE (Where I was born): Pat Summitt, Peyton Manning, Jeff Fisher and Johnny Majors.

KENTUCKY (Where I currently live): Muhammad Ali, Adolph Rupp (imagine those two side-by-side), Secretariat and Dan Issel.

43 Stops To Super Bowl XLIII: #8-11

The "43 Stops to Super Bowl XLIII" is a series that will feature stories, stats and interesting trivia that you can use to act smart as you prepare for Super Bowl XLIII. I've done this on SPORTZASSASSIN.COM for Super Bowls XL and XLI and for AOL's FanHouse for Super Bowl XLII.

#8-MAKING FUN OF ARIZONA: Last year, I wrote this at FanHouse:

The Super Bowl will be held in Arizona, of course, who could use a good dose of good NFL football. The desert has become ... well ... a desert when it comes to the bounties of great football teams.Since the Cardinals arrived to Arizona in 1988, they've had exactly one winning season. In 1998, the Cardinals went 9-7 and made their lone playoff appearance in 25 seasons and winning their only playoff game in half a century. The Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals have won just 35% of their contests, had eight different head coaches.Obviously, the Cardinals have never seen an 16-win regular season like the New England Patriots. In fact, the "Phoenix/Arizona" Cardinals have never seen consecutive seasons that add up to 16 wins (you must go back to the 1983-1984 St. Louis Cards to find that). The 2007 New York Giants won 10 regular season games. The Cardinals haven't had a 10-win season since 1976.

#9-NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE UNDERDOG: Okay, the Arizona Cardinals aren't expected to win this game. For every one person that believes that, there are three more picking Pittsburgh. Don't let that bother you, though, Cardinals fans. We all know that NO ONE was picking the Giants to win last year's Super Bowl. Here is a short list of huge upsets:

Super Bowl III: The Baltimore Colts came in as 18-point favorites. They left watching the Jets' Joe Namath fulfilling his prediction of an upset.
Super Bowl IV: The Kansas City Chiefs spanked the Minnesota Vikings, despite being a 12-point underdog.
Super Bowl VII: Oddly, the undefeated Miami Dolphins entered the game as 1.5-point underdogs to the Washington Redskins.
Super Bowl XXV: The Buffalo Bills would begin their four game Super Bowl losing streak by succumbing to the Giants, who were 7-point dogs.
Super Bowl XXXII: The Denver Broncos, an 11.5-point underdog, ended the AFC's thirteen game losing streak by beating Green Bay.
Super Bowl XXXVI: These New England Patriots began their dynasty by beating the St. Louis Rams, who were 14-point favorites.
Super Bowl XLII: The 12-point dog Giants ended the Patriots perfect season with a magical game.

See, it can happen. Just because we all think one way doesn't mean we cannot be shocked. After all, those 2001 Rams were juggernauts who were former champions and were heavy favorites. They left without the trophy.

#10-BUT DON'T DISMISS THE FAVORITES: Yeah, there are upsets, but don't count on them. The favorite has won seven of the last 10 Super Bowls. In fact the favorite is 29-13 in the Super Bowl. Teams favored by at least 7 points are 18-6.

#11-DON'T WIN THE COIN TOSS: The team that wins the opening coin toss is just 20-22 in the game. That averages out to ... well ... the flip of a coin. However, the coin toss winner has been the Super Bowl loser in 9 of the last 12 games.

SB 42: Giants won the toss ... and the game
SB 41: Bears won the toss, lost the game
SB 40: Seahawks won the toss, lost the game
SB 39: Eagles won the toss, lost the game
SB 38: Panthers won the toss, lost the game
SB 37: Buccaneers won the toss ... and the game
SB 36: Rams won the toss, lost the game
SB 35: Giants won the toss, lost the game
SB 34: Rams won the toss ... and the game
SB 33: Falcons won the toss, lost the game
SB 32: Packers won the toss, lost the game
SB 31: Patriots won the toss, lost the game

43 Stops To Super Bowl XLIII: #12-15

The "43 Stops to Super Bowl XLIII" is a series that will feature stories, stats and interesting trivia that you can use to act smart as you prepare for Super Bowl XLIII. I've done this on SPORTZASSASSIN.COM for Super Bowls XL and XLI and for AOL's FanHouse for Super Bowl XLII.

#12-YOUR OTHER VIEWING OPTIONS: Every year I like to look at the DirecTV guide to see what other networks put on opposite the Super Bowl.

FOX-Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader: No other "trivia" show is more drawn out than this.

ABC-America's Funniest Home Videos then Wipeout!!!: Yes, Wipeout returns with new ways to watch people fall on their buttocks. And they are gearing for non-Bruce Springsteen fans.
ESPN-World Series Of Poker: Um, no.
ESPN Classic-When Billie (Jean King) Beat Bobby (Riggs): Just in case you needed a fix after the Aussie Open
ANIMAL PLANET-Puppy Bowl V: A staple at my house.
DISCOVERY-Jesus: The Complete Story: Call me crazy, but I tend to watch these things during halftime. I just need to get away from the game for a bit.

HISTORY CHANNEL-God vs Satan: Like the Steelers, God is a 7-point favorite

DIY-Bathtastic!: Let's do up the place I will be relieving myself of bacon cheddar fries!
DISCOVERY HEALTH-627 Pound Woman: AKA "The woman who showed up to the Super Bowl party just for the food"
VH1-Sober House: My wife's guilty pleasure
HBO-Meet The Spartans: For people who thought "Don't Mess With The Zohan" was smart comedy.
SHOWTIME-Bratz Movie: This will shut up the kids
VERSUS-World Extreme Cagefighting: Blood is cool
NBA PASS-Clippers vs Wizards: The NBA needed some time to slip this clunker in so nobody would notice

#13-LIST OF SUPER BOWL NO-NAMES: Below are guys that made their names in the Super Bowl. Some of these guys were pretty good NFLers before their breakout games ... some we haven't heard of before or since ... but performing well on the biggest of stages makes them legends.

Doug Williams (Redskins): It wasn't that Williams was a no-name as much as things really didn't pan out for him. Dude really came off the scrap heap. Williams did nothing much of note in his first years at Tampa Bay or in his USFL stint. Redskins coach Joe Gibbs (who coached Doug in Tampa) gave him a shot in 1986 to back up Jay Schroeder. In '87, Schroeder had some shoulder issues late in the season and Williams did a good job taking over. So much so that there was a QB controversy. Williams got the nod and the rest is history.What Williams did in the 2nd quarter of Super Bowl XXII is nothing short of remarkable. He was 9-of-11 for 228 yards and 4 TDs. Again, that was just in the 2nd quarter! Williams would win the game's MVP and become the first (and only, so far) black quarterback to win a Super Bowl.

Timmy Smith (Redskins): If Doug Williams didn't win the MVP, Smith would have. Smith rushed for 204 yards (still a Super Bowl record) and two TDs. Coming into the game, Smith had rushed for just 129 yards that season. His career lasted just 15 games after the Super Bowl.

Max McGee (Packers): McGee is famous for his pre-Super Bowl I partying. With Boyd Dowler injured early in the game, a hung-over McGee would step in and catch the first TD pass in Super Bowl history. He would go on to catch seven passes for 138 yards and two TDs ... three more receptions than he had all season long.

Jeff Hostetler (Giants): People forget that Phil Simms didn't start the G-men's second Super Bowl title. Simms hurt his ankle late in the season and Hoss took it the rest of the way. He had the least amount of playing time of any QB to start a Super Bowl. He held up well, throwing for 222 yds and a TD.

Dan Bunz (49ers): The linebacker was instrumental in the greatest goal line stand in Super Bowl history, stuffing the Bengals four times with goal to go. The defining play was Bunz' tackle on a swing pass to Charles Alexander on third down (he was also in on the stop on fourth down).

Larry Brown (Cowboys): The running joke after Super Bowl XXX was that Brown was the Steelers' Neil O'Donnell's favorite target. Too bad he played for the other team. Brown picked off two O'Donnell throws ... his final game with Dallas. He used the MVP award to get a nice fat contract with the Raiders and did nothing much of note after the fact.

Dwight Smith (Buccaneers): If Brown won an MVP award for picking off two passes ... why didn't Smith win won for taking two picks back for TDs? He was a nickelback used a lot in a game where (a) Oakland's offensive attack warranted it and (b) the Raiders were so far behind that they had to take chances. Why ....

Dexter Jackson (Buccaneers): ... because Smith's second TD came in the closing seconds after the ballots had already been counted. Jackson had picked off two passes himself (none that went for TDs) that were momentum changers. And Jackson wouldn't have won the award either if not for fan voting taking place in the game (Simeon Rice was the press' pick).

Percy Howard (Cowboys): Never heard of him? Well, Howard came into Super Bowl X and caught a 34-yd touchdown pass from Roger Staubach. That was the only reception he had in his entire career.

Don Beebe (Bills): Beebe has been on six Super Bowl teams ... but will be remembered most for running down Leon Lett and stripping the ball right before crossing the endzone in Super Bowl XXVII.

#14-THINGS NON FOOTBALL FANS CAN SAY TO BLEND IN: Look, I know that there are people in America that will be attending Super Bowl parties because ... well, they love to party. Some won't know who's playing in the game until they get there. I've also come to find that there are actually guys out there that get dragged to Super Bowl parties because of their women (that's sad). Don't worry. So the diehards around the party who actually care about the game won't think you're a wuss, I'm here to help. Here are a few vague quotes that you can use so you fit in among the football fans. You don't have to engage in a conversation with these, just drop these in from time to time the rest of us don't make fun of you once you leave. Just print this out, study it and you will at look somewhat less wimpish around the real men at the Super Bowl party.

"The Cardinals just need to limit turnovers and control the clock if they want to pull the upset."
"Kurt Warner is back to his MVP form!"
"It's amazing that Big Ben could win his 2nd Super Bowl in four years."
"You just gotta convert those third downs!"
"Don't sleep on Willie Parker!"
"Troy Palumalu in unbelievable!"
"Third and long? I'd blitz."
"Pittsburgh couldn't go wrong with either Mike Tomlin and Ken Whisenhunt"
"I got a few bucks on this game."
"Damnit! I left my squares sheet at home!"
"Larry Fitzgerald has had one hell of a postseason!"
When there is a penalty called for holding, just say, "yeah, he was tackling him!"
"You think Brett Favre is gonna retire?"
"It's nice to see Edgerrin James playing well."
"Hard to believe Arizona is in the Super Bowl instead of the Super Bowl being in Arizona."


National Anthem: Jennifer Hudson. Second straight year an American Idol contestant will sing the Star Spangled Banner (Jordin Sparks did it last year). This has to be quite a gig considering everything she's dealing with right now.

Halftime perfomer: Bruce Springsteen. I wonder if Glory Days will be used for any promotional items? Oh, it has!

Pregame entertainment: Journey. Good news for all those Steve Perry fans

Home team: Arizona Cardinals. The NFC champ is the home squad in odd-numbered games.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sportz Assassin Classics: Carl Lewis "Break It Up"

When most people think about Carl Lewis singing, they think of his rendition of the National Anthem before a Bulls-Nets game. Sorry, but the above video is the worst thing ever.

This has always been a favorite of SPORTZASSASSIN.COM and I felt I needed to bring it back now that I've relaunched the site.

So was the video posted below. This is the "Break It Up" video mixed with NWA's "Straight Outta Compton". Please enjoy!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

LenDale White Doesn't Like Getting 'Swagger-Jacked'

Great video making its way around the internets is the whole "Smash and Dash" battle between the Panthers DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart and the Titans LenDale White. Enjoy this banter between the three on FoxSports' "Best Damn Sports Show Period".

We Need Shaq, Kobe and Phil Together For One Night Only

Normally I'm not big on having certain guys make the All-Star team. Especially a guy like Shaquille O'Neal, who has been to 14 of these things and it should be old hat to him by now.

However, we need Shaq on this team. We need it. TNT needs it. The NBA needs it.

I mean, this will be our final shot of Shaq and Kobe as teammates.

We all know that dynamic that is Shaq and Kobe so forgive me for not doing the "journalistic thing" and retracing all the steps as if you've lived under a rock. You know the history so think about how cool it would be to have Shaq and Kobe as teammates.

Not just that, but Phil Jackson would be their coach. So the triangle will get back together for one night only ... in Shaq's new playground in Phoenix. Remember how in June 2004, these three men all wanted to go off in completely different directions. Shaq blamed Kobe, Kobe blamed Phil, Phil blamed both.

Of course, we all know that the shame of this is the fact that they were making such sweet music together. Three straight titles including a postseason that saw them lose once in 16 games. Even in their non-titles of 2003 and 2004, they had their moments when they turned on the switch and were the best team in the NBA. Because of all that ego, that left.

Since then, Phil and Kobe have reunited and made another Finals appearance together. Kobe ended up with his first MVP award and a couple of scoring titles. Shaq went to Miami and won a title with his next little buddy, Dwyane Wade (who he mysteriously doesn't gush much about anymore). By the way, Wade will be playing for the East that night. All we need is Penny Hardaway to show up and we can have it all.

Well, it would be complete if Shaq blessed us with a halftime rendition of "Kobe, How's My @$$ Taste".

For one night ... if the Western Conference coaches vote Shaq into the All Star Game ... all three will be back in the same locker room. Both Shaq and Kobe will probably bring in their new playthings of Amare Stoudamire and Pau Gasol to the party. They all will be cordial and, being the competitors they are, will blow all that animosity out the window so the West can win the game.

Still, for Laker fans like me, it will be a bittersweet moment when (and you know this is going to happen) Kobe throws up a lob that Shaq thunders down like it is Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals all over again. We will remember the great times the two produced together in their much too brief partnership and lament the fact that their egos and selfishness threw it all away.

It just will be great to see the ol' gang back.

43 Stops To Super Bowl XLIII: #16-19

The "43 Stops to Super Bowl XLIII" is a series that will feature stories, stats and interesting trivia that you can use to act smart as you prepare for Super Bowl XLIII. I've done this on SPORTZASSASSIN.COM for Super Bowls XL and XLI and for AOL's FanHouse for Super Bowl XLII.

#16-SUPER BOWL DATES: Here are just a few dumb notes about Super Bowl dates. Super Bowl XXIX was the only Super Bowl that was played on the same day (29) as the Roman numeral of the game. January 26th is the most popular date for a Super Bowl as a record four games have been played on that date. And, if you go in order from the earliest date (January 9th) to the latest (February 6th), the only days to not have held the Super Bowl are January 10, 19, 23 and February 2.

This will be the second Super Bowl held on February 1st.

Jan 9-XI
Jan 11-IV
Jan 12-III, IX
Jan 13-VIII
Jan 14-II, VII
Jan 15-I, XII
Jan 16-VI
Jan 17-V
Jan 18-X
Jan 20-XIV, XIX
Jan 21-XIII
Jan 24-XVI
Jan 27-XXV
Jan 29-XXIX
Feb 4-XLI
Feb 5-XL, XLVI
Feb 7-XLIV

#17-THE CARDINALS RED GLARE: The Arizona Cardinals are designated the home team and will wear their home red uniforms. That means the Steelers will wear all white. In Super Bowl history, Pittsburgh is undefeated in their white unis. In fact, the team that has worn white uniforms has won the last four Super Bowls (Giants, Colts, Steelers, Patriots).

Arizona is trying to become the first team to win a Super Bowl while wearing a red uniform since the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XXIX.

#18-STILL HAVEN'T WON ONE: I mentioned before than there are now five franchises that have never appeared in a Super Bowl (Lions, Browns, Jaguars, Texans and Saints). But there are nine others that have never won the Super Bowl in any of their appearances. They are Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans, San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, and Seattle Seahawks. The Bills and Vikings have lost four games apiece; the Bengals and Eagles have each lost two. The rest lost on their only trip. An Arizona loss puts them on this list.

#19-SUPER BOWL UNDEFEATEDS: On the flip side, if Arizona wins then they will join a list of four other franchises to be undefeated in Super Bowl play. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens each won their only trip to the Super Bowl. The San Francisco 49ers have won all five of their Super Bowl appearances.

43 Stops To Super Bowl XLIII: #20-23

The "43 Stops to Super Bowl XLIII" is a series that will feature stories, stats and interesting trivia that you can use to act smart as you prepare for Super Bowl XLIII. I've done this on SPORTZASSASSIN.COM for Super Bowls XL and XLI and for AOL's FanHouse for Super Bowl XLII.

#20-SUPER BOWL LOGO: The Super Bowl logo features the two main colors of blue and green. The colors represent the regional waterways and landscapes of the Tampa area. The eight yards on the logo represent the champion of the 08 season.

#21-CARDS AND STEELERS HAVE BEEN AROUND FOR A WHILE: This will be just the third Super Bowl that will be played between teams who have been around since the pre-expansion era (1960). The Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Rams met in Super Bowl XIV and the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears met in Super Bowl XLI. It is interesting that the Rams (Cleveland), Colts (Baltimore) and Cardinals (Chicago) all played their Super Bowls in their relocated cities.

#22-FUTURE SUPER BOWLS: Just a reminder about upcoming Super Bowls. XLIV will be played in Miami. This will be the first time since Super Bowls XXI and XXII that consecutive Super Bowls will be played in the same state. Those Super Bowls were played in Pasadena and San Diego, CA, respectively. The only other time it has happened was when Miami hosted both Super Bowls II and III.

Super Bowl XLV will be played in the Dallas Cowboys new stadium. Super Bowl XLVI will be played at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis.

#23-KURT WARNER IS THE NEXT CRAIG MORTON: Warner will be making his third Super Bowl start and will become only the second QB to start for two different organizations. Warner made his other two starts as a member of the St. Louis Rams. The only other man to do that is Craig Morton, who started for the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl V and Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XII.

By the way, only six quarterbacks have started more Super Bowls than Kurt Warner: John Elway (5), Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, Tom Brady, Roger Staubach and Jim Kelly (4). His three Super Bowl starts tie him with Troy Aikman, Fran Tarkenton and Bob Griese. All of those men, aside from Tom Brady, are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I'm sure Brady may get there, too. The jury is still out on Warner.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

43 Stops to Super Bowl XLIII: #24-27

The "43 Stops to Super Bowl XLIII" is a series that will feature stories, stats and interesting trivia that you can use to act smart as you prepare for Super Bowl XLIII. I've done this on SPORTZASSASSIN.COM for Super Bowls XL and XLI and for AOL's FanHouse for Super Bowl XLII.

#24-BOTH QBs HAVE BEEN HERE BEFORE: This is the first Super Bowl since Super Bowl XXIX that features two starting quarterbacks that have won Super Bowls before. Kurt Warner won Super Bowl XXXIV with the Rams and Ben Roethlisberger won Super Bowl XL with the Steelers.

The interesting thing about Super Bowl XXIX is that both starting QBs had won Super Bowls as backups. Steve Young had a couple of Super Bowl rings backing up Joe Montana with the 49ers and Stan Humpries won a Super Bowl ring with the Redskins as Mark Rypien's backup.

The last Super Bowl to feature two starting QBs that actually started and won previous Super Bowls was Super Bowl XVIII. That would be the Raiders Jim Plunkett against the Redskins Joe Theismann.

#24-COIN TOSS MEMORIES IN YEARS THAT END IN "9": The coin toss for Super Bowl XLIII will feature Roger Craig, John Elway and Lynn Swann. Those men won Super Bowls in 1989, 1999 and 1979, respectively. Joe Namath, who won the Super Bowl in 1969, will be part of the postgame presentation of the Vince Lombardi trophy.

#25-ARIZONA CARDINALS ARE SECOND TO CHICAGO CUBS: The Cardinals' last NFL championship was 1947. Their 61 seasons since their last title is the second longest drought in major professional US sports. Only the Chicago Cubs' 100 seasons since their last title is longer.

#26-ITS GOOD THAT NO ONE ACTUALLY ISN'T TALKING ABOUT THIS: Mike Tomlin will be the third African-American coach to lead his team into the Super Bowl. The first two, Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith, met two years ago in Super Bowl XLI.

#27-NBC NEEDS FIVE HOURS: NBC will have a record 5-hour pregame show before the Super Bowl. Why? I mean, I know they have 72 people on camera during their Sunday Night Football coverage during the season. I guess they need to get all of them good air time on Super Bowl Sunday. By the way, this will be the last Super Bowl shown in an analog broadcast.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

We Need More Kobe vs LeBron

The Lakers win over the Cavaliers last night wasn't very dramatic. It was a good game until the Lakers pulled away in the 2nd half. The game was physical and was uneven at times. Neither LeBron James or Kobe Bryant had outstanding nights but their matchup was unbelieveable, nonetheless.

As two guys who are going to be starring on some TNT show said last night, it was awesome to actually see LeBron and Kobe guarding each other. You rarely get that anymore. Not since the days of David Robinson, Hakeem, Ewing, Shaq, etc did you see an actually head to head matchup that would captivate the audience and the players in the game. I mean, Kobe and LeBron play different positions for their team yet they decided to guard each other.

Both did farely well defensively. There were just 43 points scored between them and both made outstanding defensive plays against each other.

You can debate it all you want, but Kobe and LeBron are the two greatest and popular players around. It would have been easy for Phil Jackson and Mike Brown to assign their non-stars to do a lot of the defensive work during the game and rest their elite players. Thank god they didn't.

Lloyd Christmas Is a Phillies Fan

I'm going to take a break to show you this from Mr. Irrelevant. Dumb and Dumber's Lloyd Christmas with his dad wearin' his Phillies gear.

43 Stops To Super Bowl XLIII: #28-31

The "43 Stops to Super Bowl XLIII" is a series that will feature stories, stats and interesting trivia that you can use to act smart as you prepare for Super Bowl XLIII. I've done this on SPORTZASSASSIN.COM for Super Bowls XL and XLI and for AOL's FanHouse for Super Bowl XLII.

#29-NBC IS BACK! NBC will be televising the Super Bowl for the first time since 1998. The network has shown 15 Super Bowls (CBS has shown 16). From 1993-1998, NBC has shown four of the six Super Bowls.

#30-TAMPA IS BACK! Tampa will be hosting their 4th Super Bowl. In Super Bowl XVIII, the LA Raiders smoked the Redskins 38-9. Super Bowl XXV was the classic Giants-Bills game. Ten years later, the Ravens beat the Giants 34-7 in their Super Bowl title.

#31-SUPER BOWL MVP'S IN CANTON: Winners of 20 Super Bowl MVP awards have gone on to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You have Bart Starr (twice), Joe Namath, Len Dawson, Roger Staubach, Larry Csonka, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, Fred Biletnikoff, Randy White, Terry Bradshaw (twice), Joe Montana (three times), John Riggins, Marcus Allen, Troy Aikman, Steve Young and John Elway. Other winners, like Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Ray Lewis can look forward to seeing their busts in Canton one day (that hikes the number up to 26). Granted, not all winners of the Super Bowl MVP award go on to anything much. Guys like Larry Brown, Harvey Martin, Dexter Jackson, Desmond Howard, Mark Rypien, Deion Branch and Jake Scott have also won the award and the Hall is no where in their future.

#32-THE FIVE WORST SUPER BOWLS: 1-Super Bowl V: This one was nicknamed the "Blunder Bowl" for good reason. There were 11 turnovers in the game with the Colts ... who won ... committing seven of them. The Dallas Cowboys were called for 10 penalties. This game sucked so bad that the MVP award was given to Chuck Howley ... of the losing Cowboys (the only time the Super Bowl MVP played for the losing team). Sure, Jim O'Brien kicked the game winning field goal at the end of the game ... but even that was set up by a turnover.

2-Super Bowl XII: Dallas was in yet another sloppy game. Good thing that the Broncos were sloppier (Denver turned the ball over eight times ... and completed just eight passes). Denver QB Craig Morton was horrible -- he completed just four of 15 passes for 39 yards and four interceptions. Yikes! There was also lingering questions about the IRS checking into his tax returns. Both teams combined for 20 penalties.

3-Super Bowl XL: It was a ho-hum game that's only excitment came on an Antwaan Randle-El touchdown pass to Hines Ward. That's pretty all the Steelers had: three big plays that ended up with TDs (the above play, a Willie Parker 75-yd TD run and an awkward pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Ward). Seattle shot themselves in the foot with bad penalties, bad red zone efficiency and turnovers. The game is one of the most controversial as many people felt that the Seahawks had a lot of bad calls go against them. Big Ben's QB rating is the lowest by any Super Bowl winning quarterback.

4-Super Bowl XX: The Bears dominated and we all loved seeing the Fridge plop into the endzone. Still, this looked like an exhibition game against a local high school team than a Super Bowl. Chicago dominated this game with their defense and made Pats QB Tony Eason look foolish (he is the only starting QB to not complete a pass). There have been several blowouts in Super Bowl history, but this is the only one where the losing team looked like it had no business being there. The saddest thing is that Walter Payton didn't get a shot at running in a TD. Jim McMahon snuck in a TD twice and the Fridge got a shot ... but not Walter. A shame.

5-Super Bowl VII: The one where the Dolphins completed the perfect season? A dud. Miami is the only team to be shut out for an entire half and still win the game. The Phins got out to a 14-0 lead before halftime and hung on for the win. If not for that botched field goal attempt (where Miami kicker Garo Yepremian's "pass" was picked off by Mike Bass and returned for a TD), the Redskins would've been the only team shut out in Super Bowl history. That score, with 2:07 left in the game, is the longest it has taken for a Super Bowl team to score.

43 Stops To Super Bowl XLIII: #32-35

The "43 Stops to Super Bowl XLIII" is a series that will feature stories, stats and interesting trivia that you can use to act smart as you prepare for Super Bowl XLIII. I've done this on SPORTZASSASSIN.COM for Super Bowls XL and XLI and for AOL's FanHouse for Super Bowl XLII.

#32-CAN WE GET A PUNT RETURN? There has never been a punt returned for a touchdown in Super Bowl history. However, there have been three blocked punts that have been returned for scores.

#33-SOME MORE STATITUDE: Here is another piece of trivia for you. There has been at least one successful field goal in 40 of 42 Super Bowls. Teams that have been shut out for one half (either the first or second) are a combined 1-18. The lone winner was those 1972 Dolphins who went scoreless in the second half of Super Bowl VII.

#34-DON'T TRAIL BY DOUBLE DIGITS: Teams that are facing a double-digit deficit are 1-37. A couple things are interesting about that stat. First, the only team to come back from a 10-point deficit and win is the 1987 Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XXII. The Skins trailed 10-0 before scoring the next 42 points. That makes that Super Bowl the only one where both teams faced a double digit deficit. Also, it is quite amazing that 37 of 42 Super Bowl have seen one team go up by at least 10 at some point in the game.

#35-FIVE BEST SUPER BOWLS: Here are what I believe are the five best Super Bowls, ever. You can debate this all you want (which is fine), but these five were all great games with exciting finishes and are memorable in one way or another.

1-Super Bowl XXV: This was a great matchup in every way. With a backdrop of war, this game had all kinds of emotion as the game began (thanks, Whitney). That vaunted Bills offense against the stuffy Giants defense. The lead changed times on four occassions. In the end, an old guy like Ottis Anderson ate up the clock and Scott Norwood missed the only time the winner of the Super Bowl came down to the final play (even if Vinatieri missed those Pats FGs, the games would've went into overtime). Giants defensive coordinator Bill Belichick's defensive gameplan for this game in enshrined at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

2-Super Bowl XLII: Yes, the Giants take the top two spots. Their amazing run just to get to the Super Bowl and matching the undefeated Patriots blow-for-blow. Eli Manning's escape and David Tyree's catch has become one of the top plays in Super Bowl history. Second biggest upset ever.

3-Super Bowl XXXIV: Not only was this a surreal matchup (remember that St. Louis and Tennessee weren't NFL cities six years earlier), but some cat named Kurt Warner was shredding up this game. The Titans staged one heck of a comeback (they were down 16-0) to have it ripped away from them on a bomb to Issac Bruce. Also, it had one of the greatest endings any football game could ever have.

4-Super Bowl XXIII: There were so many game changing moments in this one. Remember that the only times the 49ers led this game was at 3-0 ... and after Joe Montana's pass to John Taylor at the end of the game. Cincinnati had this one, but Super Joe took it away.

5-Super Bowl XXXVIII: The problem with this Super Bowl is that the 1st and 3rd quarters sucked. However, the 2nd and 4th were just outstanding! In the fourth quarter alone, there were 37 points scored ... which is a Super Bowl record for points scored in a quarter. It was just the second to have five TDs scored (the Redskins did that by themselves 16 years earlier). And it ended with an Adam Vinatieri field goal with :04 left. Oh, and we got a little nipple action at halftime.

Monday, January 19, 2009

43 Stops to Super Bowl XLIII: #36-39

The "43 Stops to Super Bowl XLIII" is a series that will feature stories, stats and interesting trivia that you can use to act smart as you prepare for Super Bowl XLIII. I've done this on SPORTZASSASSIN.COM for Super Bowls XL and XLI and for AOL's FanHouse for Super Bowl XLII.

#36-AFC LOVES FEBRUARY: The Super Bowl will be held on February 1st. Since the first February Super Bowl in 2002, the AFC is 5-1 in those games ... but the NFC has won the last one.
Super Bowl XXXVI: Patriots beat Rams on February 3, 2002
Super Bowl XXXVIII: Patriots beat Panthers on February 1, 2004
Super Bowl XXXIX: Patriots beat Eagles on February 6, 2005
Super Bowl XL: Steelers beat Seahawks on February 5, 2006
Super Bowl XLI: Colts beat Bears on February 4, 2007
Super Bowl XLII: Giants beat Patriots on February 3, 2008

#37-STEELERS EAT NFC WEST FOR DINNER: Here is a rather interesting tidbit: Of the four NFC West teams, Pittsburgh will have faced three of them. The Steelers beat the Rams in Super Bowl XIV and beat the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL. Now they will face the Cardinals. Oddly enough, the only NFC West team they haven't faced is the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners, along with the Steelers and Cowboys, have won more Super Bowls than anyone else.

#38-SCORE EARLY AND OFTEN: The team who scores first in a Super Bowl is 27-15. However, the team who has scored first has lost five of the last seven Super Bowls.

*Teams who score at least 30 points are 21-1.
*Teams that score the first TD are 30-12.
*Teams leading at the half are 32-8 (there have been two ties)

#39-THERE IS AN EXTRA VINCE LOMBARDI TROPHY OUT THERE: Excuse this one taken from my FanHouse post but it is rather interesting:

There have been 41 Super Bowls to date ... yet there are 42 Vince Lombardi Trophies (given to the Super Bowl winning team) out and about. How is that?

Well, that little ditty comes to light after the recent passing of Rams owner Georgia Frontiere. Frontiere's husband, former-Colts and Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloom, is the reason behind the story:

However, when Colts owner Carroll Rosenbloom, Frontiere's late husband, traded the Colts for the Rams in a franchise swap in 1972, he decided he wanted to keep the Lombardi Trophy the Colts won in Super Bowl V. When Super Bowl VII took place in Los Angeles, Rosenbloom told the Colts he was going to put on a display of Super Bowl trophies and asked them to bring it to the West Coast. They did. There was no display, and Rosenbloom never returned the trophy. After the Colts complained to the league office, former NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle had a duplicate made for the Colts, which remains in Baltimore (it was originally shipped to Indianapolis when the team moved but a deal was struck and it was returned to Maryland). The original Super Bowl V trophy? It presumably was in Frontiere's possession and now belongs to her heirs.

So, there are two Vince Lombardi trophies awarded for Super Bowl V ... yet neither are with the franchise that won it. The original was in St. Louis with Frontiere with the other in Baltimore, the Colts old digs. Meanwhile, Indianapolis can only show off the trophy they won two years ago.

43 Stops to Super Bowl XLIII: #40-43

The "43 Stops to Super Bowl XLIII" is a series that will feature stories, stats and interesting trivia that you can use to act smart as you prepare for Super Bowl XLIII. I've done this on SPORTZASSASSIN.COM for Super Bowls XL and XLI and for AOL's FanHouse for Super Bowl XLII.

#40-REMEMBERING 1944: Due to World War II, some NFL teams combined rosters in order to field a team. Most people remember the Steelers and Eagles merging in 1943 to form the "Steagles". Well, in 1944, the Chicago Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers merged for form the Chicago/Pittsburgh Cardinals/Steelers. Yes, the two teams that will be facing off in Super Bowl XLIII were once one franchise.

#41-ARIZONA DOES KNOW ABOUT RECENT SUPER BOWLS: Last year, the Super Bowl was played at the Cardinals home field in Glendale. Arizona has become only the second stadium to host a Super Bowl one year and then send their team to the Super Bowl the very next season. Super Bowl V was played in Miami and the Dolphins went to Super Bowl VI. It doesn't count since their home wasn't the Rose Bowl, but Super Bowl XVII was played in Pasadena and the Los Angeles Raiders went to Super Bowl XVIII

#42-STEELERS HIT SEVEN, HOPE TO HIT SIX: The Steelers will be making their 7th Super Bowl appearance. Only the Dallas Cowboys have been to more (eight). With a win, the Steelers will become the first franchise with six Super Bowl championships. They are currently tied with the Cowboys and 49ers with five.

#43-ZONA'S OFF THE LIST: You probably know by now that the Arizona Cardinals will be making their first Super Bowl appearance. That means only the Browns, Jaguars, Texans, Lions and Saints are the only NFL teams to have never appeared in a Super Bowl.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

What We Learned About the ACC Yesterday - 1/17

The ACC had a heck of a day. So what have we learned from it, children?

THE ACC IS BETTER THAN THE BIG EAST: With Duke's win over Georgetown, the ACC is now 9-6 against the Big East in head-to-head matchups. With Pitt's loss, the ACC will most likely own the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in the nation ... with North Carolina still among the favorites to win the championship.

DUKE AND WAKE STROLL ON: Duke and Wake will most likely be the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams come Monday (in some order). Both had solid wins over highly ranked foes. Wake's win at Clemson places them as the only undefeated team in the nation.

HAS NORTH CAROLINA FOUND ITS STROKE?: UNC has had some down points of late because their starting backcourt is underperforming. Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington have been off for the last few weeks and in the first half against Miami last night. In the second half, Ellington rained down seven threes and Lawson looked like the All-American guard he was at the beginning of the season. They now have to defend a 53-game home winning streak over Clemson on Wednesday.

CLEMSON IS STILL LEGIT: Yeah Clemson suffered its first loss of the season but I don't think the Tigers are going away. They have a great shot to win at Chapel Hill for the first time in 54 games on Wednesday. This team is deep, physical and has a lot of playmakers.

Sportz' Useless Conference Championship Picks

I must admit that I've had a bad time picking these playoff games. I have gotten exactly two right out of eight games. That's 25% to you and me.

Still, I gotta pick the AFC and NFC title games that will be played later today.

EAGLES OVER CARDINALS: I'm going to not trust Arizona again. I mean, it's worked so well thus far. I just love the way Philly is playing defense right now and they have the secondary that can at least slow down that Cardinal passing attack. The key will be Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook dominating on offense. Philly 31-27

STEELERS OVER RAVENS: Baltimore is just too beat up right now. They've played two tough physical playoff games and are a little worn out right now. For once, the Ravens defense won't be the best on the field. Pittsburgh 20-14

And there you have it. An all-Pennsylvania Super Bowl.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Andy Kennedy's Wife Knows Perfect Cure For ED

When news came out about Ole Miss' Andy Kennedy's wife filing a lawsuit because her husband can't perform like he used to, so many things filled the ol' noggin.

First off, why file this suit? If you don't know, Kennedy got into an alleged scuffle with a cab driver here in Cincinnati last month. The cabbie and a valet claim that Kennedy assaulted the driver and shouted out racial slurs (well, calling someone "bin Laden" is racial slur). Kennedy, who is denying all of this, has filed a defamation suit against both the cabbie and the valet because they say these claims have hurt him financially.

All that seems fair (though I don't see how the valet should get sued when he just told people what he saw). So why does his wife need to pile on? What will her suit do?

Well, now everyone knows that Kennedy is having trouble in the bedroom. I guess those 20-year old college students who attend these hoops games won't forget about that. How many chants are going to rain down on Kennedy now that everyone knows he has a problem? It also makes his wife seem like a bit of a skank when she decides that not getting enough sex is worth embarrassing your husband.

Oh, and nothing gets a man's sex drive up more than telling the world he has problems pleasing you.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Kobe Bryant Sells Ankle Insurance

Thanks to Wolf for sending me this. Above is a viral video from Nike showing Kobe Bryant selling ankle insurance. Ya know, since you could have your ankles broken by an opponent wearing Kobe's new shoes.

I like it. It works. My favorite part is the screaming "broken ankles" when various people give their testimonials.

Well done, Kobe.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Can Pennsylvania Be the New New England?

Right now, people who live in the Keystone State are having quite the sports year. The Philadelphia Phillies are your World Series Champions, the Pitt Panthers are the No. 1 ranked team in the college basketball polls and both the Eagles and Steelers are favored to win their respective conference championship games.

Can Pennsylvania be the next New England?

Remember that New England has had a great run of late. The Red Sox have won two World Series since 2003, the Patriots have three Super Bowl titles and four appearances since February 2002 and the Celtics are defending NBA Champions.

It remains to be seen, but if both the Eagles and Steelers win this Sunday then the Vince Lombardi trophy will be in PA.

Both are the anti-Seattle. Seattle has watched the SuperSonics bolt for Oklahoma City, the Seahawks fall into the tank, the Huskies football team put up an 0-fer and the Mariners have been among the worst teams in baseball.

Why Is Jim Rice a Hall Of Famer This Year ... But Not Last Year?

Here is the dumb thing about Halls Of Fame ... particularly the Baseball Hall Of Fame: why is a player worthy of induction later in his retirement than when he was first eligible?

I can understand if you can only induct X-amount of people each year that some will have to wait a year or so. I can even kinda-sorta-maybe get the fact that some voters value the "first ballot" status and wait for the 2nd year to vote on a certain guy. But why does a guy have to wait 15 years to finally get in?

Jim Rice retired in 1989. Every year since he became eligible for the Hall Of Fame, he has failed to get enough votes. In his first year on the ballot, only 29.8% of the writers voted for him. Yesterday, 76.4% voted for him. What happened in 15 years that made Rice's career any better?

Did he hit any more home runs? Any more RBIs? Did his batting average go up? Was what he accomplished during his career viewed differently in a new light? Of course not. So why did his vote total keep climbing each year until he finally got in?

It is stupid. Normally, I'm the one who says "if you aren't voted in within the first four years of eligibility, then you are off the ballot". That was until I saw the travesty of Art Monk getting passed over for the Pro Football Hall Of Fame until last year. He should have been in there and it took politicking to get him where he belonged. Still, what did Monk do 2008 that made his career any more worthy of induction? Nothing.

My other gripe is the fact that Rickey Henderson got just 94.8% of the vote. That's a lot to be sure, but which writers think that he is NOT a Hall Of Famer? According to my calculations, 28 writers didn't vote for Henderson. Seriously?!?!? Who in the heck thinks that Rickey isn't one of the greatest players who ever lived? I've gone on record on this blog in saying that I think Henderson may be the 2nd best player during my lifetime (all 33 years of it). It is ridiculous to think that some writer sitting somewhere decided not to vote for Rickey because ... well ... why wouldn't you vote for him????

It is a freakin' joke.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Thank You, Coach Dungy!

The football community just watched Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy ride off into the sunset. He's taking his smile, wisdom and passion down the ol' dusty trail. He asked us not to shed any tears for him because he lived the dream.

I'm not a Colts fan, but I will miss Coach Dungy. I relate him a bit to Dean Smith and Joe Gibbs, two legendary coaches of my two favorite teams. In a sports world filled with bombastic personalities at the head coaching position, it was nice to see guys like Dungy, Gibbs and Smith succeed at the highest level. They had their flaws, sure, but they fought for what they believed was right and did it with the highest respect for the people they worked with. They were also very spiritual, which isn't normally something I gravitate to. Still, that is getting much more rare in these cut-throat times we know live in.

He was so quiet and unasuming that you forget all the success he has enjoyed. Remember that Tampa Bay had 13 straight losing seasons when Dungy took over (all but one season saw them lose at least 10 games). After a 6-10 season to start off his career, Dungy never had another losing campaign. Tampa went from 14 straight losing seasons to five seasons at least at .500 and four playoff appearances. Sure, he left for Indy and Jon Gruden took the Bucs to the Super Bowl, but Dungy changed the culture of that franchise.

In the 13 years since Dungy first took over in 1996, the Bucs have had just four losing seasons and seven playoff appearances.

We all know what he's done in Indy. All seven of his seasons saw the Colts win at least 10 games ... with the last six seasons seeing the Colts winning at least 12 games. They won the AFC South five times and finished 2nd twice. He got his Super Bowl title in 2006, becoming the first black head coach to lead his team to a Super Bowl title.

Now he's headed on to greater things and the NFL world will miss him. But remember that just because Dungy isn't preparing football players anymore doesn't mean that he will stop teaching his values.

Thank you Coach Dungy for showing us how someone can be so successful, so humble, so private and so inspirational.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Winning in Arizona Is a New Thing

Yes, the Arizona Cardinals will host the NFC Championship game. Needless to say, this is the most exciting moment in the franchise's two-decade history in the area.

There have been exciting NFL moments in the Phoenix area before. Just last February, Super Bowl XLII was held in Glendale, AZ. Super Bowl XXX was held in Tempe. But none have really involved the Cardinals until now.

So goes to sports landscape of Arizona. They did have the Arizona Diamondbacks and their amazing 2001 World Series Championship. Since then, they've been to the NLCS just once -- losing to Colorado in 2007.

The Phoenix Suns have been around since 1968-1969 and have ZERO championships. They did lose in the 1976 and 1993 NBA Finals. They've also lost in the Conference Finals six times.

The Phoenix Coyotes have been around since 1996-1997. They have no playoff series wins in their history and haven't been to the postseason since 2002.

Heck, Arizona senator John McCain will forever be known as the man who lost to Barak Obama in the 2008 election.

And then there is this picture below: The uniforms of the Tuscon Toros. Really it doesn't have anything to do with what I'm talking about, but look at those unis!!

Soft Tar Heels Need to Learn Defense

To shoot 35% from the field and still score 89 points in a college game is quite amazing. North Carolina got to the free throw line and hit the offensive glass to help offset their bad shooting night.

You'd think that scoring 89 points would be enough. It isn't when you allow 92.

That's what angers me. The Heels have shown the world that (again) they are soft. This team is made up of the same players that wet their pants when Georgetown made their comeback on UNC in the 2007 Elite Eight. They are the same team that fed into a Kansas beatdown in the 2008 Final Four. When the going gets rough, the Heels wilt.

That isn't entirely fair to say. The 2007 Heels couldn't win a close game all year. The 2008 Heels did an outstanding job changing that up. They held their own in close games against Clemson, Duke, Louisville, Virginia, Boston College and against Virginia Tech in the ACC tournament. The 2009 Heels spent the first seven weeks going untested. Now they are 0-2 in ACC play ... or 0-2 against the teams that aren't afraid of them.

In both games, the Heels allowed the opponent to get wide open threes. They also got into the paint, got to the line and were allowed to do anything they wanted on the offensive end. When the Heels tried to mount comebacks, they used poor shot selection (why is Ty Lawson shooting fade-away jumpers?) and keep turning the ball over.

Against both BC and Wake Forest, the Heels have been pushed out of the paint. Tyler Hansbrough has so much faith in his perimeter game that he doesn't fight for the inside position he used to. Deon Thompson doesn't do enough to keep his position. So now Carolina is forced to take tougher shots than they have been used to getting.

I said it after the BC game: the Heels have the best team in the nation. The problem is that sometimes they thing that is enough to win.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

How In the Heck Do We Have an Eagles-Cardinals Championship Game?

Okay, this is getting ridiculous. Its one thing that Arizona went into Charlotte and beat the Panthers; it is quite another when Philly goes into New York and beat the Giants again.

Now we are treated to a Eagles-Cardinals NFC Championship Game. Add in the Ravens in the AFC Championship game and we have three teams left that are named after birds (the Falcons lost to the Cardinals last week).

A month ago, the thought of that happening would be insane. The Cardinals were nothing more than paper champions; they won the worst division in the NFL and were usually hammered when they had to deal with anyone else. Now they have beaten two NFC South teams and will actually host the NFC title game.

Philadelphia hasn't put two good games together all season long. Now they've looked outstanding in three straight. They destroyed the Dallas Cowboys in a de-facto playoff game in the season finale, they went into Minnesota and downed the Vikings and now they've dethroned the defending champions. All this after the Eagles looked so horrid against the Redskins just a month ago. All this after Donovan McNabb was benched and it looked as if the Eagles were falling apart.

This should be a great game. You have two QBs that have had a lot of grief over the past several years and one of them will be leading his team to the Super Bowl.

Carolina Clobbered? Tennessee Tagged? The NFL Playoffs Has Become So Much More Interesting!

Some things are difficult to believe.

Coming into Saturday, we knew that the Tennessee Titans had the NFL's best regular season record and that the Carolina Panthers were one of the buzz teams to win the Super Bowl. Both were favorites heading into the day, got a coveted (and rare) home playoff game and fully expected to survive to the conference championship games.


You can go anywhere to break the individual games down, but the fact that both the Titans and Panthers looked so bad can be attributed to turnovers. Carolina's Jake Delhomme threw FIVE interceptions and fumbled the ball away another time. You cannot have your quarterback cough up the ball six times and expect anything but a loss.

This was just an embarrassing day all around for the Panthers. Since the NFL expanded the playoffs in 1990, this is the worst beating a No. 2 seed has received on their home turf. And by an Arizona team that had been 0-5 in the Eastern Time Zone this season. Oh, and the Panthers were the only NFL team to have not suffered a home loss this season.

Arizona 33-13. Amazing.

As for the Ravens beating the Titans, at least Tennessee can go to bed dreaming about all the chances they had that were squandered away. Like being down three in the 4th quarter and fumbling away the ball inside the Ravens' five yard line. That was one of three turnovers the Titans gave up deep inside Baltimore territory.

Still, it was tied 10-10 when B-more's Joe Flacco completed a deep pass to Todd Heap that gave the Ravens a chance to line up the game-winning kick. And like that *poof* the Titans are gone.

So the Giants and Steelers ... the favorites to get to the Super Bowl when the playoffs started ... have to be a bit stunned by what's going on around them. Who the hell knows? We could have an AFC Championship game in San Diego and an NFC title tilt in Arizona.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sportz Assassin Classic: Mr T Wants You to Treat Your Mother Right

A few years ago, I posted this on my original SPORTZASSASSIN.COM site and now I feel it needs to make a comeback.

It is Mr. T singing about treating your moms correctly. I mean, she gave you life! So give her a back-rub. Help her bring in the groceries. Give her chocolates. Shut the car door for her.

There is no other
Like mother
So treat her right
I'll always love her
My mother
So treat her right"

Friday, January 9, 2009

NY Post Says Julio Iglesias Plays For Oklahoma

Hat tip to Awful Announcing for this one. The New York Post was breaking down the Florida win over Oklahoma last night and they had a little typo.

I guess Julio Iglesias now plays for the Sooners and not Juaquin Iglesias, the guy's real name.

Look, we all screw up (some more than others) and I would never say that I haven't had a word or two or three wrong before, but most of us aren't the New York Freaking Post!

Congrats, Florida!!!

I'm not a fan of Florida by any means, but I have to respect what its football program and athletic department have accomplished over the past few years.

To win two BCS Championships (they aren't "national" championships since the BCS doesn't really allow for that to happen) in three years is stunning. In college, there is just so much turnover by having seniors graduating every year and freshman coming in and needing to catch up with everyone else.

Add in the back-to-back NCAA Championships that their hoops team won, and this has been one heck of a four year stretch.

The Gators are worthy champs whose defense just shut down the historically high-powered Oklahoma offense. And when it was winnin' time, Tim Tebow showed us why he is in the conversation for greatest college football player of all-time.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sportz Assassin's Divisional Picks

I've had a pretty decent year with my college and NFL picks this season, but lost three of four Wild Card picks (I did get Baltimore right!). So here are my NFL Divisional picks:

TITANS OVER RAVENS: I want to be like everyone else and stay on that B-more bandwagon. I just can't. I'm not a total believer in Tennessee but I think they can screw with Joe Flacco enough to make him look like the rookie he is. I also don't think Kerry Collins will make the many mistakes that Baltimore has feasted on. TITANS 24-16

PANTHERS OVER CARDINALS: This was one heck of a game the first time around. I like Carolina's defense and running attack and believe that will limit the amount of damage Arizona's offense can cause. Also, how can I pick a team that has looked so bad in all its trips to the East Coast this season? PANTHERS 27-21

STEELERS OVER CHARGERS: I wanna pick San Diego. I wanna pick San Diego. Everything points to picking the Bolts in this one but I can't. The Chargers aren't the best road team out there and despite what the buzz is, I think losing LT is a bad thing. STEELERS 23-10

GIANTS OVER EAGLES: I'm going back to my AZ-CAR pick for this. It is hard for me to take the Eagles seriously. When have you ever been able to count on them? Remember that this team looked like garbage three weeks ago in Washington. Now you think they are going into New York and beat the Giants ... again? I'm not falling for it! GIANTS 30-20

Wow. All four home teams is really going out on the ledge, eh?

Weird Night For ACC Hoops

The ACC was on full display tonight as Duke downed Davidson, North Carolina got off the mat and pounded College of Charleston and there were a couple upsets.

How in the living H-E-double hockey sticks does Harvard go to Boston College and handily beat the Eagles??? Wasn't this the same BC team that just went into North Carolina and beat the once-unbeatable Tar Heels? Using the transitive property, I guess Harvard is better than Boston College.

Then Maryland gets beat at home by ... let me find it here ... oh, Morgan State. Freakin' Morgan State went on a late 21-5 run to take the lead. They also got a game winning tip in to boot. Ah, here goes the Terps again!!!

As for Duke, they really railed Davidson for most of the game. The Stephen Currys would go on a nice second half run to get back in the game but it was too much, too late. North Carolina did what it had been doing before the BC game, seek and destroy.

So we are now entering full-blown ACC play now. Saturday features five conference games that will start to show us who is really legit. The most interesting game is Miami at Boston College. Miami was supposed to be the team that could challenge Duke and UNC for conference honors but it hasn't happened like that. BC has pulled off the biggest conference win to date, but are they that team or the one that just lost to Harvard? I'm also looking forward to Duke's visit to Florida State where the Noles always seem to play the Blue Devils tough.

The huge North Carolina-Wake Forest showdown is set for Sunday evening. Obviously this is a big game. For Wake, it will show the country if it is really worthy of a No. 4 ranking and prove they will be a title contender. UNC wants to get its swagger back and winning at Winston-Salem would certainly do that. A loss would put UNC at an unthinkable 0-2 in ACC play.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

NFL 2008's Perceptions

Forget what the records say exactly. Forget all of the black-and-white. I like going back and looking at what each team did or didn't accomplish in the 2008 season.

Just a wild season. Yes, the Wild Card loss stings, but to imagine that a team that won one game last year would win 11 games and the championship of a very competitive AFC East.

New England: It's hard to say that a team that went 11-5 could have had their worst season in years. Technically that's the case since the Pats failed to make the playoffs and Tom Brady's career may never be the same.

NY Jets: On the surface, it wasn't a bad season. The Jets were vying for a playoff spot down to the last week of the season. However, the addition of Brett Favre, Kris Jenkins and other free agents led many to believe that this would be a magical season. This team lost 4 of 5 to end the season, the coach fired and Favre not knowing his next move. That's what you signed up for, J-E-T-S!

Buffalo: Bad season. It started so promising even though most of us knew it wouldn't last. I haven't seen a team move from the top of the division to an also ran so quickly.

Well, they are one of eight teams alive. Still, has any other top tier team gotten by on the skin of their teeth more than the Steelers? From Romo's Pick-O-Rama to a controversial TD against the Ravens (and another close one with the Ravens), to squeakers over the Chargers, Browns and Jaguars. It doesn't matter though since they're still here.

Baltimore: No matter who is running things, that defense is just so good. How else can a rookie coach and rookie QB still be around in the Divisional Round of the playoffs? Remember that this team finished last in this division last season.

Cincinnati: Don't get it twisted, this was a horrible year. The Bengals figured to be about an 8-8 team but bottomed to an 1-11-1 start. Next year could have some high hopes as Carson Palmer returns, hopefully Cedric Benson will too and that young defense keeps on improving.

Cleveland: Not to say I told you so, but I wasn't buying into the preseason hype around the Browns. This team surprised everyone in 2007 that people thought it was the start of something wonderful. Well, a tough schedule and infighting led to a last place finish and the firing of Romeo Crennel and GM Savage. However, the worst thing that may have happened was that whole Savage-Winslow deal where another staph infection tainted the Browns.

Who saw this happening? Remember the season started with Vince Young not going back into a game and then, allegedly, going missing for an evening. Insert 67-year old Kerry Collins to not screw things up and watch that awesome defense do their thing. If anyone needs a refresher that building up your trenches could be advantageous, look here.

Indianapolis: Great season that ended too soon. The Colts had their backs against the wall early this year. They needed miracles to beat the Vikings and Texans or else they'd be staring at an 0-4 start. They would win their last nine games and become the scariest team entering the postseason. Amazing that people felt Peyton Manning was done early in the season and then he ends up the league's MVP.

Houston: Not much to say here, only that "hey, the Texas were a decent team this year. Look out next year!" Some things never change.

Jacksonville: One of the most disappointing teams. People figured that the Jags would be the ones to break the Colts stranglehold on this season. Then the Jags imploded with arrests, injuries and an unfortunate incident involving Richard Collier. Hard to know if this is just a bump in the road or a sign of things to come.


Detroit News and ESPN's Rob Parker Resigns After Rod Marinelli Flap

Here is the video of Lions former head coach Rod Marinelli's press conference a few weeks ago. In it, Rob Parker, a columnist for the Detroit News and regular sparring partner with Skip Bayless on ESPN's First Take, went over the line by grilling Marinelli about his family.

Marinelli's son-in-law, Joe Berry, was the Lions defensive coordinator. So Parker asked if Marinelli wished his daughter married a better coach.

Now Parker has resigned from the Detroit News. No word on if he will still be on ESPN.

Interesting that these columnists are all falling be the wayside. At least they have TV shows and blogs to run to now.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Big East Kicks Butt, But the ACC Isn't Shabby Either

The Big East has an amazing nine teams in the latest ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. That is 56% of their 16-team setup (that would equal 6.7 ACC teams).

Still, the ACC isn't that bad, either. The ACC has three of the top four ranked teams: No. 2 Duke, No. 3 North Carolina and No. 4 Wake Forest (those schools are all about a stones throw away from one another).

Clemson also chimes in at No. 11. Boston College vaults to No. 24 with their upset over UNC.

Five of 12 teams in the Top 25 (41% of the conference) isn't bad at all. Especially when 25% of the conference is ranked in the top four of the nation and 33% is ranked in the top eleven. Miami-FL has been ranked and Florida State has been getting a few votes.

This isn't an "ACC-is-better" argument because the Big East is. The schedule in that league is unbelievable and every other day, it seems, features two ranked teams facing off.

Back From the Dead

Okay. Due to things that happened over the weekend, I won't be blogging at AOL FanHouse as much (if at all) anymore. So I am going to concentrate on getting back to getting this blog rolling again and building it back up.

Before FanHouse, I blogged here at SPORTZASSASSIN.COM since 2004. AOL supplied the "journal page" and I just did my thing. From there, I got into a network of other AOL bloggers who supported and championed each other and things went well. From Pigskin Bloggers to AOL's Sports Bloggers Live, times were good and I loved talking my game here.

Since blogging at FanHouse, I've almost let my original blog -- this blog -- die. I really didn't want to duplicate posts so I put most of my stuff at FH and just let this float. That is my mistake.

Since then, AOL has shut down their "journals" so my original site moved here. If you go back to my past posting, you will see the kinds of things I used to do before I devoted my time to FH.

I promise to get this back to that. I loved being part of a family of bloggers and not as insulated (and hated) as part of a corporate blog. Excuse me if the blog isn't as shiny as I had the other one; I'm still learning all you can do at Blogger.

So, give me a chance to get SPORTZASSASSIN.COM back to where it was and I hope to get back in touch with the people I knew before FanHouse and the great friends I've made since I've been there.

Thank you.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

I Just Want to Be Sad Today

I'm in a funk.

I got bad news on a phone call today that has really made me question myself. Anyone who knows me personally will tell you that I'm never like that. I'm a pretty confident person, though humble. So getting told "you suck" is a real punch to the gut.

I'd like to take this moment to do something that most bloggers don't do (which, I guess, is my specialty) and that is thank my wife. After I got off the phone, I needed to process everything I just heard and really didn't need someone to yell or moan or break down on me. My wife listened to me as I rambled on and was extremely supportive of me and actually embraced the bad news.

She made me feel better about myself. I love her for that. I just hate that my sadness may have ruined her day yesterday as Saturdays, typically, are our days to just hang out and be together. We just got back from Christmas vacation in Charlotte and needed to hit the grocery store as well as run a few other errands. We came home and watched Eagle Eye and Ghost Town (two pretty good movies) on DVD and just laid around the house.

I watched a total of 15 minutes of the NFL playoffs. Yeah, I was that depressed.

Hopefully this will only be a temporary thing; both my mood and my predicament. I am striving to turn both around a soon as possible and get back to how I was feeling the minute before I answered the phone.

UPDATE: Well, I actually watched some football today. I did get to see the Dolphins (who I used to have some caring for) crumble to the Ravens. I also saw the first half of the Vikings-Eagles game, but switched over to watch my beloved Tar Heels fall to Boston College.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

NFL Bowl Games

I know, I know ... I'm beating a dead horse. But if the BCS is so great then why not apply it to the NFL and not have those crazy playoffs. I mean, these guys have families to care for so playing the extra games isn't very responsible!!!!

SUPER BOWL (Tampa): Tennessee vs NY Giants
SUNSHINE BOWL (Miami): Pittsburgh vs Carolina
WELLS FARGO BOWL (Pasadena): Indianapolis vs Baltimore
LONE STAR BOWL (Houston): Atlanta vs Miami
SPRINT BOWL (New Orleans): New England vs Minnesota
UNIVERSITY OF PHOENIX BOWL (Glendale): Philadelphia vs San Diego
MGM BOWL (Las Vegas): Arizona vs Dallas
PEACH BOWL (Atlanta): Chicago vs Tampa Bay
GRACELAND BOWL (Memphis): NY Jets vs Houston
ORE IDA BOWL (Boise): New Orleans vs Washington

There, every team that was "bowl eligible" gets to go to a bowl. I'd rather watch 10 games where 9 are meaningless than 11 games that feature win-and-advance intensity.

"Every Game Counts" ... My Butt

College football honks love to tell you that the bowl system "makes every game count". Bull-corn!

If every game counted, then why isn't Utah the National Champions? After all, they won every freaking game on their schedule this year ... something no other team is able to say. Not Florida. Not Oklahoma. No one.

I guess every game does count, but some count more than others. Like, a home loss to Ole Miss is worth more than all of Utah's 13 wins this year.