Thursday, January 28, 2016

50 Stops To Super Bowl 50

Every year since Super Bowl XL, I have used this blog for my "Stops To Super Bowl" list.  Every year, I create a list of smart, dumb, inane and chat worthy items for you to use in any banter leading up to and during the Super Bowl.

This year, it is 50 Stops to Super Bowl 50 and I'm back with some more (and some of the same) little items for you about the upcoming big game.

#50-NO ROMAN NUMERAL:  As you probably know by now, this isn't Super Bowl L.  It is Super Bowl 50.  The NFL branded it this way because of marketing purposes.  The "50" looks better than the "L".  Also, the color has changed to gold this year.  The NFL logo has been in gold and the league has celebrated their past Super Bowls all year long.  

The NFL used the Roman numerals due to the fact that the game was in the calendar year following the regular season.  

If they stuck with the L, that would be the first one character Super Bowl roman numeral since Super Bowl X.  The only others were Super Bowls I and V.  Next year, the Super Bowl will go back to normal and be Super Bowl LI.

#49-CALIFORNIA GOLD RUSH:  This will be the 12th Super Bowl hosted by the state of California.  Only Florida has hosted more (15).

This will be the fifth different stadium in Cali to host the game.  The Los Angeles Coliseum, Rose Bowl, Stanford Stadium, Qualcomm Stadium and, now, Levi's Stadium.  Florida also has had five different stadiums (Orange Bowl, Sun Life Stadium, Tampa Stadium, Raymond James Stadium and Alltel Stadium).  It is the fifth different city as well (Los Angeles, Pasadena, San Diego, Stanford, Santa Clara).  


This is the 2nd time the Super Bowl has been held in the Bay Area.  Super Bowl XIX was in Stanford, CA.  The two Bay Area teams (49ers, Raiders) have 8 Super Bowl wins in 11 appearances.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

No Team Has Hosted A Super Bowl? No Team Has Even Been Close!!!

New Orleans has played host to the Super Bowl ten times,
but the hometown Saints have only been to one title tilt.

No team has ever played on their home field in the Super Bowl.  It has never happened.  Never.  Most fans know that.  But if you really look into it, it hasn't even been close.  First, some stats on this.

*Of the 50 Super Bowls, 43 of them were played in a stadium that was a home field for an NFL team.
*Since the Jets and Giants share MetLife Stadium, they were both hosts of Super Bowl XLVIII.
*Super Bowl VIII was played in Rice Stadium in Houston.  The Oilers used to play there but were currently playing at the Astrodome.
*Five Super Bowls were played at the Pasadena Rose Bowl and one was at Stanford Stadium.  Neither was home to an NFL franchise at the time.
*The Los Angeles Rams did play in Super Bowl XIV which was in Pasadena.  The San Francisco 49ers played in Super Bowl XIX in Stanford.  Those are the closest examples of a team playing a "home Super Bowl".  Neither were their home fields but both were certainly in their geographic footprint.

Here is the year-by-year records of the teams who hosted the Super Bowl:

Friday, January 15, 2016

49 Moments For 49 Super Bowls

Vince Lombardi carried off the field after the Packers'
Super Bowl II victory over the Oakland Raiders.

Remember the hit show Friends?  The name of each episode always began with "The One Where ... " and then some moment from that week's program.  The Super Bowl is sort of like that.  Each Super Bowl has its own flavor.  Its own memory.  Sure, there is a lot more to a Super Bowl than just one play or one person, but there is usually a first thought that comes to mind.

So here is the Super Bowl episodes:

I-THE ONE THAT WAS THE FIRST ONE

This wasn't even called the Super Bowl.  It was the NFL/AFL World Championship game.  The NFL was believed to be the superior conference and the Packers' 35-10 spanking of the Chiefs proved it.

II-THE ONE THAT VINCE LOMBARDI WAS CARRIED OFF THE FIELD

The Packers easily handled the Oakland Raiders to win their 2nd straight Super Bowl.  The game would be the last for Vince Lombardi in Green Bay.  He would be the GM the following year before returning to coaching with the Washington Redskins in 1969.  He died in 1970.

III-THE ONE WHERE JOE NAMATH WON

Obviously, Super Bowl III will always be remembered as the one where the AFL beat the NFL in the title game.  Joe Namath's guarantee was spot on as the Jets beat the Colts and legitimized the AFL's existence.



IV-THE ONE WHERE HANK STRAM WAC MIC'D

Chiefs head coach Hank Stram was wearing a microphone as his team beat the Vikings in Super Bowl IV.  The sounds that they got were priceless.  "You can't do that in our league!"

V-THE ONE WITH ALL THE MISTAKES

This was the Blunder Bowl.  There were 11 turnovers in this one.  The Cowboys set a record with 10 penalties.  There was even a missed PAT.  This is still the only Super Bowl were a player on the losing team won the MVP award.

VI-THE ONE WITH THE PRESIDENTIAL PLAY

Richard Nixon called Dolphins coach Don Shula and drew up a play.  The Dolphins ran it ... and it didn't work.

VII-THE ONE UNDEFEATED SEASON

Of course, Super Bowl VII is most noted as the one season where we saw an undefeated team.  The Miami Dolphins beat the Washington Redskins in a rather boring, non-descript game to finish the year 17-0.  There, of course, was the Garo Yepremian botched kick that turned into the lone Washington touchdown.

VIII-THE ONE WITH CZONKA

Hard to believe now, the the Miami Dolphins won this Super Bowl with a quarterback that threw just 7 passes.  Bob Griese did complete six of those passes in the 24-7 win over the Vikings.  This was Czonka's night.  Czonka ran for a then-record 33 times for a then-record 145 yards.

IX-THE ONE WHERE THE STEEL CURTAIN ARRIVES

Super Bowl IX was unattractive.  The Vikings offense was pitiful and the game was a defensive struggle.  But Steelers back Franco Harris broke Czonka's records from the prior game (34 rushes, 154 yards) to begin one of the greatest dynasties in NFL history.

X-THE ONE WITH LYNN SWANN'S CATCH

We all know that Swann catch.  The tip.  The fall.  The beauty.

XI-THE ONE WITH THE RAIDERS

The Raiders returned to the Super Bowl for the first time since Super Bowl II.  That tough, physical (sometimes dirty) defense mixed with a gun-slinging offense won a championship.  The game and the players were iconic.  From John Madden to Kenny Stabler to Willie Brown's huge pick-six.  When we all think of the Raiders, this game comes to mind.  That's how Al Davis would want it.

XII-THE ONE WHERE ROBERT NEWHOUSE THROWS A TD

Super Bowl XII was the first to be played indoors and the first to be played at night.  It also featured a nice touchdown pass by Cowboys' running back Robert Newhouse.  That was the first TD pass thrown by a running back in a Super Bowl.



XIII-THE ONE WHERE JACKIE SMITH DROPPED A TD PASS

There are great plays in the Super Bowl, but there are some huge blunders (more will be on this list).  One of the biggest was Cowboys' tight end Jackie Smith dropping a sure touchdown pass late in Super Bowl XIII.  Dallas settled for a field goal instead, and they ended up losing by 4.

XIV-THE ONE WITH STALLWORTH'S GRAB

The 1970s had closed and with it some of the greatest teams in NFL history.  The Steelers were the best among them.  This Super Bowl was surprisingly in doubt late.  The Rams actually held a 19-17 lead going into the 4th quarter when Terry Bradshaw completed a 73-yard TD pass to John Stallworth to give the Steelers a lead they would never relinquish.

XV-THE ONE WITH PETE ROZELLE HANDING THE TROPHY TO AL DAVIS

The Raiders were back in the Super Bowl, but this was a bit different.  Before the season, NFL commish Pete Rozelle had didn't allow the Raiders to move from Oakland to Los Angeles.  Al Davis and the Raiders then sued the NFL, citing the league's anti-trust laws.  The Raiders would later win, but there was quite the tension between the two men for several years.  So the anticipation of Pete Rozelle handing the Super Bowl trophy to Al Davis was at a fever pitch.  It happened, without any incident.

XVI-THE ONE WHERE IT WAS FREEZING

The game was played in Pontiac, Michigan at the Silverdome.  Good thing, since this was a very cold day. Only the second Super Bowl to that point that didn't take place in either Miami, New Orleans or the Los Angeles area and the first to take place in a cold-weather city.  The fans, of course, were fine inside the stadium but a snowy weekend caused a nightmare for fans and media to get to the game.



XVII-THE ONE WITH JOHN RIGGINS RUN

I Right, 70 Chip.  That was the play Redskins' coach Joe Gibbs called on 4th-and-1 in the 4th quarter and Washington trailing 17-13 to the Dolphins.  The play saw John Riggins not only pick up the 1st down, but he lumbered to a TD and a Super Bowl title.

XVIII-THE ONE WHERE MARCUS ALLEN TORE IT UP ON BLACK SUNDAY

The Redskins were back in the Super Bowl, but they would not repeat their title.  No, Marcus Allen and the Los Angeles Raiders ran all over Washington to a 38-9 win.  The game is also known for the Apple commercial, 1984, where ads became as synonymous with Super Bowl Sunday as the game itself.  But it was Allen's 191 yards rushing and 2 TDs ... one of which was a wicked 74-yd TD scamper ... that won the day.

XIX-THE ONE WHERE ROGER CRAIG HIGH STEPS FOR A TD

Roger Craig scored 3 touchdowns in Super Bowl XIX, a blowout of Dan Marino's Dolphins.  But the most memorable moment was Craig high-stepping into the endzone for his final score.



XX-THE ONE WITH THE SUPER BOWL SHUFFLE

The 1985 Chicago Bears are legendary.  That team nearly went undefeated and blew through the postseason.  They were so dominant that they made this video before even winning the Super Bowl.  It was brash, but it fit this team so well.  Hard to believe that not only was this the Bears lone title, but this group didn't even get to another Super Bowl.

XXI-THE ONE WITH THE GATORADE SHOWER

It is ubiquitous.  Winning teams douse the coach with a cooler full of Gatorade.  Heck, now you can even bet on the color of Gatorade that gets dumped.  However, it was this Giants team that made it a thing.  They dumped it all over Bill Parcells after each of their victories in 1986, including their Super Bowl XXI victory of the Denver Broncos.

XXII-THE ONE WITH THAT SECOND QUARTER

Still my favorite quarter of football (ed. note: I'm a Redskins fan).  The Redskins trailed 10-0 to the Broncos heading into the 2nd quarter when the Redskins would pile on 35 points.  Doug Williams completed 9 or 11 passes for 228 yards and 4 TDs ... in that quarter alone!  Timmy Smith, a nobody, rushed for 122 yards and Ricky Sanders caught 168 yards worth of passes (and two TDs) in that quarter.  This Super Bowl featured the biggest deficit a winning team ever faced (since tied), the most rushing yards by a player (Smith) and Williams was the first African-American quarterback to win a Super Bowl (it took 26 years before it happened again).

XXIII-THE ONE WITH JOHN CANDY

One of the greatest Super Bowls, this game featured one of the best lines ever.  With the 49ers trailing the Bengals 16-13 with just over 3 minutes left in the game, Joe Montana gets into the huddle and says, "hey, isn't that John Candy?"  San Francisco would then go on an 11-play, 92-yd drive that ended with a John Taylor touchdown catch and Montana's 3rd Super Bowl title.

XXIV-THE ONE WITH THE BLOWOUT

The Niners repeated their championship with a blowout of the Broncos, Denver's third Super Bowl loss in four years.  San Fran won 55-10, which remains the most points scored by a team in Super Bowl history and the largest margin of victory.  It may also be the greatest matchup of quarterbacks in Super Bowl history as Joe Montana faced John Elway.  Add in Steve Young's mop-up duty and it is a shoo-in.

XXV-THE ONE WITH WHITNEY AND SCOTT

This Super Bowl is remembered for two things:  Whitney Houston's rendition of the National Anthem and Scott Norwood's missed field goal to end the game.  Not much more I can tell you about it.

XXVI-THE ONE WITHOUT THURMAN THOMAS' HELMET

The Bills were back in the Super Bowl and they felt they were ready to beat the Redskins.  Well, except that their star running back couldn't find his helmet and was missing from the opening Buffalo drive.  That wasn't the only miscue to start this game (botched kicks from both teams, namely) but the Redskins cruised to a title.



XXVII-THE ONE WITH LEON LETT

Or you could say "The One With Don Beebe".  This utter spanking the Cowboys gave the Bills is mostly forgettable, but it should've been worse as Leon Lett let a sure TD return go awry when he was showboating and Bills' receiver Don Beebe chased him down and forced a fumble into the endzone.

XXVIII-THE ONE WHERE THE BILLS CEMENT HISTORY

Most people don't remember too much about this Super Bowl.  Yes, Atlanta had an ice storm during Super Bowl week and Emmitt Smith had a big day.  But this is known for the Bills final appearance in a Super Bowl ... four games in four years.  The Bills actually held a halftime lead, but Dallas outscored them 24-0 in the 2nd half.

XXIX-THE ONE WITH THE MONKEY OFF STEVE YOUNG'S BACK

Steve Young is one of the best quarterbacks of the Super Bowl era, but people were giving him a lot of grief for not winning the big one.  Fair, since the Niners chose Young when they cut ties with Joe Montana.  Young did it with a record setting performance.

XXX-THE ONE WITH NEIL O'DONNELL

Other quarterbacks have had bad Super Bowls.  But Neil O'Donnell was giving the Cowboys this one despite the Steelers outplaying Dallas.  Three interceptions, including two that made Larry Brown into a household name.  It got Brown a huge free agent contract with the Raiders.  Ironically, this was O'Donnell's final game with the Steelers as he would leave for the Jets.

XXXI-THE ONE WITH BRETT FAVRE

Brett Favre's biggest moment was the Packers' 35-21 win over the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI.  While Favre wasn't the MVP (Desmond Howard was) or the most dominant player on the field (Reggie White was), Favre got loose.  He threw TD passes of 54 and 81 yards and his celebrating became part of his legend.

XXXII-THE ONE WHERE JOHN ELWAY'S FLIP

John Elway lost three Super Bowls in the early part of his career which came in three of four seasons.  Since the 1989 season, it took nearly a decade to get back.  Elway faced the defending champion Packers and were also trying to end the AFC's 13-year losing streak in the Super Bowl.  Late in the 17-17 game, Elway scrambled to pick up a 1st down and did his famous Helicopter Flip.  The flip showed how badly he wanted this and the Broncos would finish off the win.

XXXIII-THE ONE WHERE ELWAY LEAVES

Not much stands out about Super Bowl XXXIII other than an unfortunate pre-game incident involving a well-respected Falcons player and the fact that John Elway left on top.  As of now, it is the moment pointed to when a veteran wins a title.  Do you leave now on top?  It was asked to Tim Duncan when the Spurs won the 2014 NBA title.  Hardly any athlete, especially of that stature, gets to even make a decision like this.  Elway did.



XXXIV-THE ONE THAT NEEDED ONE MORE YARD

One of the most thrilling endings in a Super Bowl, the Titans were "one yard short" to tying Super Bowl XXXIV.  Trailing the Rams 23-16 with no timeouts and just six seconds left.  Steve McNair threw a pass over the middle to Kevin Dyson.  Rams linebacker Mike Jones held on to the tackle and stopped Dyson on the 1-yard line as time expired.

XXXV-THE ONE WITH THREE TOUCHDOWNS ON THREE PLAYS

The Ravens defense was all-time great, but this game will be most remembered as the game with three TDs on three consecutive plays.  The first one was the Ravens Duane Starks picking off Kerry Collins and returning it for a 49-yd touchdown.  On the ensuing kickoff, the Giants' Ron Dixon returned it 97 yards for a TD.  The following kickoff, the Ravens' Jermaine Lewis returned that kick for a TD.  Amazing.  In three plays, a 10-0 game turned into a 24-7 Baltimore lead.

XXXVI-THE ONE THE PATRIOTS WON THE 9/11 GAME

This Super Bowl was pushed back a week due to the NFL moving a week of games after the attack on September 11th.  The Patriots were a Cinderella team who made the Super Bowl with a young, backup quarterback named Tom Brady and a some close calls in the playoffs.  They then get to face the Greatest Show On Turf Rams, who were 14 point favorites.  The Patriots and Tom Brady pulled off the upset with Adam Vinatieri's 48-yd field goal as time ran out for the improbable win.

XXXVII-THE ONE THAT'S THE GRUDEN BOWL

In the offseason, the Oakland Raiders 'traded' Jon Gruden to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Oakland then hired assistant Bill Callahan.  Who knew the two teams would face off in the Super Bowl?  No one knew that, but Gruden apparently knew the Raiders' playbook hadn't changed since he left and Tampa jumped all over Oakland, forcing five turnovers and a dominant win.

XXXVIII-THE ONE WITH THE WARDROBE MALFUNCTION

Forget that the Patriots and Panthers played in one of the most exciting Super Bowls ever, this game will be forever known for Janet Jackson's boob showing during the halftime show and all the ramifications since.

XXXIX-THE ONE WHERE DONOVAN MCNABB "THREW UP"

This one is an urban legend that has people on both sides of the debate.  Did Donovan McNabb throw up during that final drive to tie Super Bowl XXXIX (which failed)?

XL-THE ONE THE REFS HAD A BAD GAME

The Steelers and Seahawks met in Detroit, but what many people remember is the questionable officiating.   Both sides complained about calls, though the feeling among most is that Seattle got the raw end of the deal.  At the time, I called this the worst Super Bowl ever.

XLI-THE ONE IN THE RAIN

There are a few bigger moments in this one.  It was Peyton Manning's lone Super Bowl win.  It was also the one where Devin Hester ran the opening kickoff back for a touchdown.  But it was also the one Super Bowl that truly was in the elements.  The one Super Bowl played in rain.  While it certainly wasn't a monsoon out there, it was quite slick out there.  And that rain played a cool part in one of the greatest halftime shows ever -- Prince.

XLII-THE ONE THE PATRIOTS LOST THEIR PERFECT SEASON

Yes, David Tyree's catch is the moment of this Super Bowl.  But the catch's greatness is magnified by who it was against.  The 17-0 Patriots were attempting to be just the 2nd undefeated team ever and first to win 18 games.  But that catch and some other big plays after it ruined the Patriots great season.

XLIII-THE ONE WITH SANTONIO HOLMES' CATCH

The Steelers have had some great catches in Super Bowl history.  But this Santonio Holmes TD snag with 35 seconds left may be the best.  It negated a wild 4th quarter rally by the Arizona Cardinals and gave Pittsburgh their record 6th Super Bowl title.



XLIV-THE ONE DREW BREES HELD UP HIS SON

There may not be a better moment than seeing Drew Brees hold up his young son while confetti falls down in Miami for the Saints Super Bowl title.  Sure, there was the surprise onside kick and the Tracy Porter pick-six, but this picture captures this game.

XLV-THE ONE AT JERRY WORLD

Cowboy Stadium seemed like a great place to have a Super Bowl, especially this one.  It is huge and can accommodate the huge Packers and Steelers fanbases.  However, an icy winter storm crippled North Texas and even put the game in some jeopardy.  There was also a big stink about people who bought tickets for the game who had to sit outside the stadium and watch since their seats weren't ready by game time.   Also, there is nothing more Dallas Cowboys than their cheerleaders.  Well, since both the Packers and Steelers are among the six teams who don't employ cheerleaders, there weren't any at the Super Bowl ... a first.

XLVI-THE ONE WHERE THE GIANTS DID IT AGAIN

Four years ago, the Giants upset the undefeated Patriots to win their 3rd Super Bowl.  This time, the 9-7 Giants became the team with the worst record to win a Super Bowl.

XLVII-THE ONE WHERE THE LIGHTS WENT OUT IN NEW ORLEANS

This is an interesting Super Bowl for all kinds of reasons.  First off, the Ravens had a 28-6 after returning the 2nd half opening kickoff back for a TD.  Then the 49ers had a furious comeback and nearly tied it at 31 late (a 2-pt conversion failed to keep it 31-29).  What happened in between was a Super Bowl first -- the power went out in the Superdome.  A 34-minute delay after the Ravens took that 28-6 lead rocked the game.

XLVIII-THE ONE THAT WAS PLAYED IN NEW YORK

Yes, this was the one where the Seahawks completely dismantled the Broncos (and nearly became The One Where A Team Was Shutout), but everything leading up to and during the game was about it being in the New York area.  The first (and only) cold weather outdoor Super Bowl.  Actually, it had just the 3rd coldest kickoff ever and there really wasn't any other weather issues.

XLIX-THE ONE WHERE MARSHAWN LYNCH DIDN'T GET THE BALL

One yard.  One yard.


Monday, January 4, 2016

Redskins 2016 Schedule Is A Bitch!

The Washington Redskins are NFC East Champions.  Excuse me while I soak this in.  This was not supposed to happen. This team was a wreck coming out of preseason.  Next Sunday, the Redskins will host the Packers in the wildcard round and this magical, unexpected season could come to an end (or it could extend into the next weekend in Arizona or Carolina).

I'm going to enjoy every second of it, because I don't think it will repeat next year.  After all, my beloved Skins did not beat a winning team all this season.  That's fine.  It happens.  But next season's schedule will be a tough one.

Not only is the NFC East always tough to navigate, the Redskins get a 1st place schedule and all that rolls in with it.  The bad part is they also face the NFC North and AFC North this upcoming season.  That means the Redskins will play six playoff teams from this year, including four other division winners.  They'll get to face the two teams with the best records this season.

*COWBOYS (home, away):  Of course, the Cowboys twice.  Dallas should get their act together with a healthy Tony Romo and Dez Bryant.

*GIANTS (home, away):  New York could've/should've been the best team in the division.  They let sooooo many games slip away this season.  Now, they could have a new coach next season but the franchise shouldn't change too much.

*EAGLES (home, away):  No more Chip Kelly ... so could this team be better?  Depending on the new coach, there is talent on this roster to get back to where experts thought they'd be.

*PANTHERS (home):  The 15-1 Panthers were far and away the best regular season team this year and could be defending Super Bowl champs when this game happens.  We met earlier this season with Carolina trouncing the Redskins.

*CARDINALS (away):  Not only do the Redskins get to play the 15-1 team ... they get the 13-3 team as well.  Arizona may be the best team in the league this season.

*BENGALS (away):  This game will be played in London.  Cincinnati will be making their 5th straight playoff appearance this weekend.  One of the better offensive teams in the league.

*VIKINGS (home):  NFC North champions who bring in rushing champ Adrian Peterson.  This is a relatively young team that is on the right track under Mike Zimmer.

*PACKERS (home): Well, we will get a rematch of our playoff meeting with Green Bay next year.  Hopefully, the Packers will be looking forward to this game as revenge for their playoff loss to the Redskins.  Hopefully.

*STEELERS (home):  Big Ben and the Steelers get to come to Washington.  Last time they were in DC, it was the night before Barack Obama was elected President.  Pittsburgh is a trendy pick in the AFC playoffs this season.

*LIONS (away):  Detroit is one of those teams that I think is better than they looked this past season.  The Lions are possibly a surprise team for 2016.

*RAVENS (away):  Another team who surprisingly had a bad season.  Not to say that this team just had an off year -- this isn't a great team.  But it is a regional rival that should get the blood boiling.

*BEARS (away):  For the 2nd straight season, the Redskins will visit Chicago to play the Bears.  Washington won a key game this year to catapult their playoff run.

*BROWNS (home):  Who knows what the Browns will look like in 2016?  New GM, new coach and maybe new QB.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

NFC Is Hot Heading Into The Postseason; So Are The AFC's Wildcard Teams


The playoffs should be great.  In the AFC, you actually have the "bottom" three teams a bit in a better place than the top three teams.  

*Broncos have lost 2 of last 4
*Patriots have lost 2 straight; lost 4 of 6
*Bengals have lost 2 of 4; lost 4 of 8

Meanwhile, you have the Chiefs on a 10-game winning streak.  The Texans have won 7 of their last 9 games.  The Steelers have won 4 of their last 5 games and 6 of 8.  In the last half of the season, the Steelers and Texans have beaten the Bengals and the Chiefs and Steelers have beaten the Broncos.  The Patriots' four losses over the last six week have come to three non-playoff teams.  The two wildcard teams are pretty hot right now.

Plus, look at the quarterbacks.  The Bengals and Texans are playing with backups and the Broncos went back to Peyton Manning to win in Week 17 to give them home field advantage.  Tom Brady hurt his leg during their Week 17 loss to Miami.  

This should be a wild AFC postseason.

Over in the NFC, we have:

*Vikings have won 3 straight; 9 of 12
*Redskins have won 4 straight; won 6 of 8.
*Cardinals have won 9 of 10
*Seahawks have won 6 of 7; won 8 of 10
*Panthers are 15-1
*Packers have lost 2 straight; lost 6 of 10

This should be an epic postseason.  Aside from Green Bay, everyone is hot. Cam Newton should be he NFL MVP.  Carson Palmer should get a few MVP votes and should be the Comeback Player of the Year.  Russell Wilson has been on fire over the last six weeks or so.  Kirk Cousins broke all kinds of Redskins records and led the league in completion percentage.  Even Teddy Bridgewater has been playing very well heading into the playoffs.  And those woeful Packers?  They still have that Aaron Rodgers guy.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Are There Just Too Many Bowl Games? Or Not Enough?



We are nearing the end of bowl season.  We have a full slate today and then the National Championship game in about 10 days.  As usual, bowl season has had its ups and downs ... but is it the right amount of each?  Is the bowl season too long, not long enough or just right?

I've always subscribed to the thinking that there can never be "too many" bowl games.  Ultimately, the kids get to play in one last game (that's huge for a senior) and a place they may not usually get to go to.  They get a week worth of activities and some swag along the way.

Look at the Russell Athletic Bowl, where North Carolina played Baylor.  The game is in Orlando.  UNC may get to go to Florida to play Miami or Florida State once in a while, but how often does Baylor's players?  Orlando in December.  They also have some activities to get through, including some life altering ones, per the bowl's official website:
Located in Kissimmee, the Give Kids the World village houses children, and their families, with life-threatening illnesses and gives the players and coaches time to spend time with the kids and play games, ride rides and compete in a dance-off.
They also get quite a collection of gifts.  One is a $350 gift card to a local retailer of their choosing.  So they can get clothes, electronics, or even use it to buy loved ones Christmas presents.  They also get a watch, footwear, beach towel and other things.  Around the country, there are watches, cowboy boots, beanies, backpacks, pullovers, shopping trips, sunglasses, hats, speakers, cell phone cases and all kinds of other gifts.

That's cool for the kids.  Some don't get these kinds of opportunities often, even if you think they do at a major college program.  Not all of these schools are major programs.

This thinking is my main line of thinking.  It's good for the kids.

Of course, there is the part that looks bad.  The stadiums that are barely filled.  It looks bad on TV, especially with the wide shots of the stadium.  Some are in some no-exotic cities like Albuquerque, Boise, Birmingham, Shreveport, Montgomery and Annapolis.  Nothing against those cities, but they aren't Miami, New Orleans or San Diego.  Some bowls have rather unattractive names that just have that feel of a corporate cash grab. Hey, that's the world we live in.  The Famous Idaho Potato GoDaddy world presented by Dr. Pepper.

This year, there were a few 5-7 teams that made bowls.  That's where people are starting to have the biggest gripes.  The Cure Bowl (which is in Orlando, like two other bowls) ended with both teams having losing records.  Wasn't a bowl trip supposed to signify a darn good season?  Not anymore.  There are 80 teams playing in these 41 bowls.  Back in 1995, there were just 18 bowls.  Do the math and that means 25 ranked teams and just 11 unranked teams made a bowl game.  Now 5-7 teams get there.

There are even bowls in the works for Austin, Australia and Charleston, South Carolina.  Bowl games are good TV.  They are live events in an age where that's key to advertisers and the games are on during a weak period for programming.  Is it stretching this a bit too thin?  Only for people who just don't think mediocre football should be celebrated.

Again, I'm all about the end result: these kids from schools who normally don't get the opportunity have a blast.  Do you think Georgia State's football team gets to be nationally televised on ESPN as the lone game at the time often?

Just enjoy it.