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Show Me champions and trouble

Missouri celebrated its second professional sports championship in eight months today in Kansas City, where an estimated crowd of more than 700,000 turned out to cheer on the Chiefs three days after its Super Bowl LIV victory.

In June, the celebration was at the other end of the Show-Me State, as the Blues brought the Stanley Cup to St. Louis for the first time.

Many in St. Louis have jumped on the Chiefs bandwagon since the Rams left in January 2016 to return to Los Angeles. That number has probably grown exponentially since Patrick Mahomes took over as starting quarterback in 2018.

There may be some Bears fans in and around St. Louis, but considering the hatred eastern Missouri, if not all of Missouri, has for the Cubs (and the White Sox among Royals fans), many probably hate the Monsters of the Midway just as well. The Bears played in the Cubs’ park from 1921-70, so there’s a natural tie for that hatred.

Indianapolis is not a long drive east on Interstate 70, but the Cardinals were in St. Louis for 24 seasons before Robert Irsay told the Mayflower vans to drive the Colts’ gear from Baltimore to Indiana. And I doubt any St. Louis football fans would root for another team which relocated.

The Chiefs probably had a sizable St. Louis base from 1988-94 between the Cardinals’ departure for Arizona and the Rams’ arrival. The Chiefs were 4-12 in 1988, the year before Marty Schottenheimer was hired by Kansas City. By 1993, the Chiefs had Joe Montana under center and reached the AFC Championship, where they lost to the Bills.

The Rams were putrid their first four seasons in St. Louis (1995-98). Then projected starting quarterback Trent Green blew out his knee in the Rams’ second exhibition game of 1999, forcing Dick Vermeil to plug in some nobody named Kurt Warner. The Greatest Show on Turf was born, and a little less than six months later, St. Louis had its first sports championship since the Cardinals won the 1982 World Series.

Baseball is currently the only sport where Missouri’s largest cities have a rivalry. The NHL had it for two years with the woebegone Scouts, aka the artists now known as the New Jersey Devils (and the Colorado Rockies in between). Each city had an NBA team, but not at the same time; the Hawks left St. Louis for Atlanta in 1968, four years before the Cincinnati Royals moved to Kansas City. Of course, slimeball Joe Axelson moved the Kings to Sacramento in flagrant violation of the Warriors’ territorial rights in 1985. Had the Warriors had strong ownership in the mid-1980s like they have with Joe Lacob, the Kings never make it to Sacramento. Does that mean the Kings would have stayed in Kansas City? Probably not, because David Stern didn’t mind teams hopscotching the way it was abhorred by Pete Rozelle, Paul Tagliabue, Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth.

Since 2011, the four professional franchises currently residing in Missouri have won a championship. The Cardinals’ most recent World Series win was in 2011 vs. the Rangers; the Royals got theirs four years later vs. teh Mets.

Missouri may have great sports teams and two wonderful metropolises at opposite ends of I-70, but I don’t know if I would want to live in the Show-Me State. I doubt it.

The biggest problem Missouri has is its nonchalant attitude towards regulating nicotine.

The sales tax on a pack of cancer sticks in Missouri is 17 cents. Repeating: SEVENTEEN CENTS.

That’s one dollar and seventy cents per carton. In Illinois, the tax on one pack of cancer sticks is $2.98. I think Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker is a tool and the political cronies in Chicago have ruined the rest of the state, but at least it has one thing right (well, Chicago-style hot dogs are awesome).

Kansas’ tobacco tax is a joke as well, although $1.19 per pack is a lot better than 17 fucking cents. I’m sorry I used that word, but I believe smoking cigarettes is the most vile habit a person can acquire, short of violent crime.

Missouri’s smoking laws are a joke, too.

The state does not have a law which bans smoking in all enclosed settings. Bars in many corners of the state allow smoking wherever, whenever.

Kansas City has an indoor smoking ban, but customers can go out to a patio and suck on their cancer sticks, fouling the air for the rest of us who value our lungs.

The Buffalo Wild Wings at Zona Rosa has a large patio, and upwards of 20 smokers have been known to populate it on a given spring day. If Liz and Lisa weren’t working there, I would have quit going many moons ago.

The patio at Buffalo Wild Wings Shoal Creek is smaller, but there are plenty of smokers there on nice days. For a while, a man named Bill, who was a dead ringer for Michael McDonald, played trivia and sucked down on cancer sticks between questions.

St. Louis and the two major counties which make up the metropolitan area on the Missouri side, St. Louis and St. Charles, have adopted some pretty weak smoking bans. The ban is stronger in the city of St. Louis.

The lack of a tough smoking ban in the St. Louis area is why I stuck to getting White Castle to go when I went to St. Louis last year.

Illinois doesn’t have that problem. Smoking is banned in all enclosed areas in the Land of Lincoln, same as Kansas. As much as I dislike many things about my father’s home state, at least it has a smoking ban.

Missouri’s alcohol laws are also troubling.

There is no open container law. Passengers in a car can drink freely except in the cities with a ban, the largest of which are Independence, Columbia and St. Charles.

Every time the Missouri Legislature debates an open container law, it is shot down by the lobbyists from Anheuser-Busch (InBev). By failing to pass an open container law, Missouri has lost out on hundreds of millions of federal highway funds. No wonder I-70 between Kansas City and St. Louis is a death trap–the state doesn’t have the funding because it is too stupid to pass a common-sense law.

That’s all I have the energy for tonight. I am beat.

World Champions of NOTHING

Kansas City is celebrating the “World Champion” Chiefs today with a parade and rally.

For the record, the Chiefs are not “World Champions” of anything, even if every vehicle in the parade is displaying the words “World Champions”.

The Kansas City Chiefs won Super Bowl LIV, which gives them the right to forever be called “Super Bowl LIV champions” and “2019 National Football League champions”, the same way the franchise can refer to itself as “Super Bowl IV champions” and “1969 Professional Football champions” (1969 was the last year before the AFL-NFL merger).

The Chiefs may refer to themselves as “NFL champions” without a qualifying year until they are eliminated from the 2020 playoffs (or fail to qualify). If Kansas City wins Super Bowl LV next February in Tampa, the Chiefs may continue to use NFL champions without the year.

The Patriots lost the right to call themselves NFL champions without a qualifying year when they lost to the Titans in the wild card round. New England can refer to itself as NFL champions of 2001, 2003, 2004, 2014, 2016 and 2018, but must use the qualifying years. And it cannot call itself a “world champion”, period.

No NFL (or AFL) champion has the right to call itself a “world champion”.

The NFL has never had a franchise in a country other than the United States of America. Save for a few exhibitions in the early 1960s, no NFL team has played a team from the only other major league on earth which sponsors gridiron football, the Canadian Football League.

Two of the other major North American sports leagues use “World Champions” when they should not.

The NBA has referred to the winner of its playoff tournament as “World Champions”. At least the league no longer refers to the final round of the playoffs as the “World Championship Series” as it did through 1985.

Major League Baseball has sponsored the World Series since 1903, with two exceptions (1904 and 1994). Every World Series winner I know has referred to itself as a “World Champion”, even though MLB has never had teams in countries other than the USA and Canada. North American champions is also inappropriate since no World Series winner has played a champion from Mexico, Cuba or another country.

The Associated Press expressly forbids its publications from using “World Champions” to refer to teams. It is SUPER BOWL champions, WORLD SERIES champions and NBA champions.

Baseball and basketball can easily determine a world champion the way FIFA does with the Champions League.

The National Hockey League has it right. Gary Bettman and his predecessor, John Ziegler, never refers to the winner of the Stanley Cup Finals as the “World Champions” of hockey. That team is the STANLEY CUP champion or the NHL champion.

Here’s something to keep in mind about the NHL. A team can win the Stanley Cup X number of times. However, a team cannot win Y Stanley Cups. There is only one Stanley Cup, and unlike the Vince Lombardi, Larry O’Brien and Commissioner’s trophies, a new one is not made each year.

Therefore, the Blues are attempting to win the Stanley Cup for the second time, not their second Stanley Cup. Got it?

Back to football.

There are two world champions of football. They are the French Men’s National Team and the United States Women’s National Team. France won the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and the USA won the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

Every Super Bowl ring is a FRAUD, since every one says “World Champions”.

Super Bowl, Kobe, impeachment…blah blah blah

Thank God the Super Bowl kicks off in 23 hours and 30 minutes, give or take. Enough talk about Patrick Mahomes. Enough talk about the Chiefs looking for their first Super Bowl victory in 50 years. Enough asking Len Dawson about Patrick Mahomes. If you live in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and parts of Iowa, Arkansas and Oklahoma, you may not realize the 49ers are in the Super Bowl as well.

The Chiefs have been the sole focus of every media outlet in Kansas and western Missouri. If you thought coverage of the Royals during their 2014 and 2015 World Series appearances was excessive, it pales in comparison to the adulation the Chiefs have received. It’s quite the opposite from the other end of Missouri, where the Rams were always a distant third to the Cardinals and Blues during their 21 seasons in St. Louis.

The 49ers are still getting less air time in San Francisco than Nancy Pelosi. People in the Bay Area have witnessed six championships since 2010, three by the Giants and three by the Warriors. Add in the success the Sharks have enjoyed despite the lack of a Stanley Cup, and the 49ers have been an afterthought most of the time since Steve Young’s retirement 20 years ago. There was the trip to Super Bowl XLVII and the crushing loss to the Seahawks in the NFC championship game the next season, but until this year, the 49ers went through their longest downturn since suffering through seven losing seasons out of eight from 1973-80.

If Kansas City wins tomorrow, people in this part of the United States will be hearing about it non-stop until the Chiefs go to training camp in July. Kansas basketball and the Royals will register, but it won’t eclipse the Chiefs.

Andy Reid might retire if the Chiefs win. I would not doubt it. It would allow Kansas City to promote Eric Bienemy and not have to worry about other teams attempting to poach him next January.

If San Francisco wins, we’ll hear about it for a few days, but it will fade. The sports fans of the Bay Area need something good this year, because the Warriors have been reduced to a D-League (sorry, G-LEAGUE) team without Steph Curry, the Sharks are stinking it up, and the Raiders have officially traded Oakland for Las Vegas.

The hype for Super Bowl LIV has been muted. That would normally be a good thing, but not this time.

It’s because almost every sports show, even some on NFL Network, have to mention Kobe.

Yes, Kobe perished last Sunday with his 13-year old daughter, six other passengers, and the foolish pilot who had no business flying a helicopter in thick fog. Sad. Very sad.

However, it happens all the time, and 99.5% of the time, the names of the people on board aren’t mentioned, and it gets all of 20 seconds on the evening news, if that.

I read on the Internet there is a petition circulating to change the NBA logo silhouette to that of Kobe, instead of Jerry West, whose silhouette has been the logo for almost 50 years.

Come on.

Do those who want to make the change realize who brought Kobe to the Lakers? JERRY WEST. Does anyone know of another NBA figure who was as great an executive as he was a player? Hello…hello…

Magic Johnson and James Worthy were both drafted #1 overall by the Lakers, thanks to shrewd trades by West to acquire the picks which helped land them.He took a chance on an unproven assistant named Pat Riley in late 1981 after firing Paul Westhead. He made the trade for Kobe and signed Shaq during the summer of 1996, and three years later convinced Phil Jackson to coach his latest collection of talent.

All 12 Lakers championships in Los Angeles were influenced by Jerry West. Now why should he be taken off the logo in favor of Kobe? Give me a good reason.

Twenty-four second shot clock violations and eight-second backcourt violations have become cool since Kobe’s death, since 24 and 8 were his jersey numbers with the Lakers. To me, that’s making a mockery of the game. Honor him, yes, but don’t do it by disrupting the normal flow of a game.

Golfers have become Kobe worshippers this weekend. Justin Thomas and Tony Finau wore Kobe jerseys during the Phoenix Open. Phil Mickelson, a legend in Phoenix thanks to winning an NCAA championship at Arizona State, smartly skipped out on the Phoenix Open and is playing in Saudi Arabia. Tiger is not playing golf this weekend, choosing to attend the Super Bowl; after all, it’s in his backyard (he lives in Florida, which doesn’t have a state income tax, while his native California has astronomical taxes, especially for rich athletes).

The third and only other thing in the news right now is the impeachment trial of Donald John Trump. No comment.

Red Sunday assured

It will indeed be Red Sunday in Miami Gardens in two weeks.

The Chiefs defeated the Titans 35-24 for the AFC Championship, and the 49ers easily ousted the Packers 37-20 for the NFC Championship to set up Super Bowl LIV.

Kansas City is in the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years, when Hank Stram’s club, led by Hall of Famers Len Dawson, Buck Buchanan, Bobby Bell, Willie Lanier, Emmitt Thomas and Johnny Robinson, defeated Bud Grant’s Vikings, who were in their five-year period without Francis Asbury Tarkenton. The 23-7 final at Tulane Stadium was considered an upset since Minnesota was favored by 13 to 14 points, but the Chiefs (or Raiders, whom Kansas City defeated in the last AFL Championship game) were far superior to the Jets club which defeated the Colts in Super Bowl III. Joe Namath’s guarantee was an upset, because that Baltimore team, even without Johnny Unitas, was great. Looking back, the 1969 Vikings weren’t.

Minnesota went 12-2, yes, but lost to the Giants and Falcons, both of whom went 6-8, and Joe Kapp was the worst quarterback to start any of the first four Super Bowls, and probably one of the ten worst ever. The Vikings had no outside running threat, their receivers were nowhere near as good as the Chiefs’ Otis Taylor, and their offensive line, which featured future Hall of Famers Mick Tinglehoff and Ron Yary, had never faced a defensive line as large as Kansas City’s. Viking losses in divisional playoff games to the 49ers in 1970 and the Cowboys in 1971 proved the offense didn’t work without Tarkenton. Tarkenton came back from New York in 1972, and while the Vikings made three more Super Bowls, they were overwhelmed each time.

The Chiefs’ other Super Bowl appearance was in the first one, which was known at the time as the AFL-NFL World Championship game. The Chiefs hung with Lombardi’s Packers for a half, but self-destructed after the break, and Green Bay went on to win 35-10 in Los Angeles. Packer wideout Max McGee became the Super Bowl’s first unlikely hero with seven receptions for 143 yards and two touchdowns.

San Francisco will be making its seventh Super Bowl appearance. The 49ers’ only Super Bowl loss was in their most recent trip, a 34-31 loss to the Ravens in New Orleans where John Harbaugh defeated younger brother Jim. The former is still in Baltimore; the latter is coaching his college alma mater in Ann Arbor. Few outside Maryland and the Bay Area remember much about the game itself, but instead the power outage at the Superdome during the third quarter.

The 49ers’ two previous trips to South Florida for the Super Bowl were quite possibly the best and worst Super Bowls ever.

The worst was in January 1995, when the 49ers mauled the Chargers 49-26 in Super Bowl XXIX, the only Super Bowl to match two teams from the same state. The 49ers were favored by anywhere from 17 to 20 points, and it quickly became apparent they would cover that spread and then some. Two California teams playing in South Florida and a horrible match drove ticket prices way down. The Chargers’ starting quarterback, Stan Humphries, makes my list with Kapp for the Super Bowl’s worst.

Humprhies has a Super Bowl ring as the backup for the 1991 Redskins. Fortunately for Joe Gibbs, Mark Rypien stayed healthy throughout that season and he never needed Humphries in an important situation. Then again, the 1991 Redskins might have won Super Bowl XXVI if Gibbs played quarterback himself. That team was loaded.

The other 49ers Super Bowl in South Florida, Super Bowl XXIII vs. the Bengals, was one for the ages, and in my opinion, the best I’ve witnessed.

San Francisco fell to 6-5 in mid-November following back-to-back losses to the Cardinals and Raiders. Steve Young pulled out a game vs. the Vikings with a 49-yard touchdown run in the game’s final minute in one of the best plays I’ve seen live, but vs. the Cardinals (in their first season in Arizona), San Francisco blew a 23-0 lead and lost 24-23, while the 49ers were scuttled 9-3 at home by the Raiders in Mike Shanahan’s biggest victory as coach of the Silver and Black.

With a Monday Night Football game vs. defending Super Bowl champion Washington, Bill Walsh named a healthy Montana as his starter.

The 49ers were off and running. They routed the Redskins 37-21, then won their next three, including a 30-17 victory over the Saints at Candlestick to clinch the NFC West. In the playoffs, San Francisco earned revenge for a 1987 playoff loss to the Vikings with a 34-9 rout before going to Chicago and crushing the Bears 28-3 despite a wind chill of minus-10 Fahrenheit (minus-22 Celsius).

San Francisco was considered an underdog to the Cinderella team of 1988, the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bengals were 4-11 in 1987, and Sam Wyche (who passed away earlier this month; R.I.P,, Sam) had to win or else in 1988 to keep his job. Cincinnati needed a goal-line stand on opening day to outlast the Cardinals 21-14, but it spurred a 6-0 start and a 12-4 regular season to win the Bengals’ first AFC Central championship since 1981, the year they went to Super Bowl XVI and lost to the Bengals in Detroit.

Cincinnati was powered by 1988 MVP Boomer Esiason, and a powerful running back combination of James Brooks and Elbert “Ickey” Woods, who introduced the “Ickey Shuffle” to the football world. Woods was penalized when he did his dance in the end zone, so he was relegated to doing so on the sideline.

Super Bowl XXIII was the first in Miami in 10 years, and the first at Joe Robbie Stadium (now Hard Rock Stadium), which opened in August 1987. Billy Joel performed a fantastic rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner (he repeated it for Super Bowl XLI in the same stadium), but soon thereafter, the sunny skies over South Florida darkened.

Two serious injuries occurred in the first quarter, with 49ers offensive tackle Steve Wallace and Bengals nose tackle Tim Krumrie taken off the field on carts. Krumrie broke a bone in his left leg, an injury so serious an air cast had to be placed over the leg to stabilize it.

The first half produced little offense, with each team kicking a field goal. 49ers kicker Mike Cofer blew a 19-yard chip shot in the second quarter, and at halftime, it was 3-3, the first halftime tie in the Super Bowl.

The Bengals scored the game’s first touchdown late in the third quarter when Stanford Jennings returned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown, putting Cincinnati ahead 13-6. San Francisco answered on a Joe Montana to Jerry Rice touchdown 57 seconds into the fourth quarter to forge the game’s third tie.

Rice ended the night with 10 receptions for 215 yards, both Super Bowl records, and easily won the game’s MVP award.

Jim Breech’s 40-yard field goal with 3:20 to go put the Bengals up 16-13. When the 49ers were pinned at their own 8-yard line following a penalty on the ensuing kickoff, hearts across northern California sank, while those in southern Ohio, northern Kentucky and southeastern Indiana rose. It looked like Cinderella’s glass slipper would not shatter. It looked like the team with the pumpkin-colored helmets would not turn into pumpkins themselves.

Wyche knew all too well no game was over as long as #16 was in charge for the 49ers. After all, Wyche was the 49ers’ quarterbacks coach when they won Super Bowl XVI seven years prior.

How cool was Joe Montana? As the 49ers huddled in the east end zone of the stadium prior to the first play of the drive, Montana pointed out to his teammates that actor John Candy was being shown on the video board.

Montana Magic was never more apparent than the evening of 22 January 1989 in Miami Gardens, Florida.

San Francisco drove 872 yards on 10 plays, leaving it with third and goal from the Cincinnati 10. With the Bengals focused on Rice, and rightly so, Montana spotted his other top wideout, John Taylor, on a post pattern over the middle. Taylor caught the ball in stride in the end zone with 34 seconds left.

San Francisco 20, Cincinnati 16. Bill Walsh announced his retirement in the locker room after the game, and his successor, George Seifert, led the 49ers to a most dominant 14-2 season in 1989 and a 55-10 destruction of the Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV.

The Chiefs and 49ers are infrequent foes, seeing they play in opposite conferences. They don’t even play much in the exhibition season.

They first played in 1971, with Kansas City winning 26-17 at Candlestick on Monday Night Football. The Chiefs did not return to Candlestick until 1985, and they did not defeat the 49ers again until 1994, when the Montana-led Chiefs defeated the Young-led 49ers 24-17 at Arrowhead. In between, San Francisco won in 1975 and ’82 at Kansas City, and again in 1985 and ’91 at Candlestick.

Their last game was in 2018 at Arrowhead, the game where 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was lost for the season with a serious knee injury. Kansas City won 38-28. San Francisco went 4-12, giving it the #2 overall pick in the draft, which it used to take Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa, who will win Rookie of the Year or be a close second.

This will not be the first time the championship of a North American professional sports league will be determined by teams from Kansas City and San Francisco.

In the 2014 World Series, the Giants defeated the Royals in seven games. The teams split the first two games in Kansas City, then the Royals won the third at San Francisco. The Giants rallied to win the next two at AT&T Park (now Oracle park), but Yordano Ventura pitched a gem in game six at Kauffman to take the series to the limit.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy called on ace Madison Bumgarner, the starter and winner in games one and five, to relieve former Royal Jeremy Affeldt to begin the fifth with San Francisco ahead 3-2.

Bumgarner totally shut down the Royals until there were two out in the ninth. Alex Gordon singled and went to third when left fielder Gregor Blanco overran the ball. It looked like Gordon would be able to score, but third base coach Mike Jirschele held up Gordon.

Salvador Perez then popped up to Pablo Sandoval in foul ground. Sandoval squeezed the final out, giving San Francisco its third World Series title in five seasons. Of course, the Royals redeemed themselves one year later, with a lot of help from the bumbling Mets.

Let the hype begin.

Thawed and posting

Sorry I went three days without posting. Not much happened to write home about, save for my session Thursday with Crista. Let’s say I was not in the right frame of mind.

I was going to go to Hays tomorrow for an appointment, but I rescheduled due to icy roads. I’m there today, killing time at Taco Bell and playing trivia on my phone. I am going to need Sudafed when I get back to Russell because my nose is stuffed.

LSU’s football team visited the White House yesterday and was greeted by President Trump, who attended the championship game in New Orleans. Joe Burrow, the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback and future Cincinnati Bengal (barring something out of far left field), said it best that political affiliations didn’t matter; visiting the White House on invitation by the President of the United States is an honor.

Too bad too many athletes are turning this honor into a political statement. The Warriors famously refused to visit 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue after their 2017 and 2018 NBA championships because coach Steve Kerr and several players detest Trump. Disgraced ex-Red Sox manager Alex Cora did not accompany the Red Sox after their 2018 World Series championship. Several members of the Patriots and Eagles boycotted following their Super Bowl championships.

The ONLY good thing about the Raptors winning the NBA championship in 2019 is we didn’t have to hear about boycotting Trump. They were warmly received by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Candaian Parliament in Ottawa. Too bad Brian Mulroney was the last Canadian Prime Minister to host a Stanley Cup champion, the Canadiens in 1993.

These teams should be grateful to visit one of the most elegant residences on the planet. It wasn’t always the case.

The 1972 Miami Dolphins, the NFL’s only undefeated and untied champion, didn’t visit the White House until 2012, by which time Richard Nixon, who was in office at the time (and a huge Dolphins fan), had been dead for 18 years, and two of his successors (Ford and Reagan) had also passed on. Three members of the ’72 Dolphins–Jim Langer, Bob Kuechenberg and Manny Fernandez–did not attend because they disagreed vehemently with President Obama. Sadly, Langer and Kuechenberg are no longer with us.

The 1985 Bears were scheduled to visit the White House a few days after winning Super Bowl XX, but the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion less than 48 hours after the victory over the Patriots scuttled that.

Today, there was a short parade on LSU’s campus from the School of Music and Dramatic Arts down Victory Hill to the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, where more than 13,000 fanatics stuffed the “Deaf Dome” to greet Burrow, Coach O and all the rest. Two assistants were absent: Joe Brady, now the Panthers’ offensive coordinator, and Dave Aranda, now Baylor’s head coach.

LSU fans should gloat and enjoy it. It may be a long time before another championship.

It’s just coincidence, but LSU has sewn up all four of its national championships in New Orleans, a mere 75 to 80 miles east-southeast of LSU’s campus. If that trend continues, LSU’s next championship won’t come before 2027, since the sites through 2023 have been named, and the college football playoff folks want a large rotation of cities, not a few as used to be the case for the Super Bowl.

Miami , Los Angeles and Houston will host the next three championships. It figures Minneapolis, Detroit and Indianapolis will all host soon, since all those cities have retractable roofs. Charlotte, Nashville, Baltimore and Washington will all want to host, even though the weather is a roll of the dice compared to Florida and California.

A few people posted on social media that LSU clinched its 1958 national championship by defeating Clemson in the Sugar Bowl.

Not true.

However, it was true the Bayou Bengals clinched their championship in the Big Easy, defeating Tulane 62-0 in their regular season finale. LSU did not play the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and thus had to wait out the results from that weekend to find out if they would hold on to the top spot.

When the polls were released 1 December 1958, LSU held a comfortable margin over No. 2 Iowa. That was the final poll for the Associated Press and United Press International. The AP first conducted a post-bowl poll in 1965, went back to ending polling after the regular season in 1966 and ’67, then made the post-bowl poll permanent in 1968. The UPI did not switch to a post-bowl poll until 1974, a move roundly criticized.

The Hawkeyes were awarded the Football Writers Association of American (FWAA) national championship after they defeated California in the Rose Bowl, feeling LSU’s victory over Clemson was unimpressive.

Between 1960 and 1973, Minnesota (1960), Alabama (1964), Michigan State (1965), Texas (1970) and Alabama (1973) all lost their bowl game after finishing first in the UPI poll Minnesota and Alabama in 1964 were also first in the final AP poll. The bowl losses opened the door for Alabama in 1965, Nebraska in 1970 and Notre Dame in 1973 to win the AP poll.

Ole Miss won the FWAA championship in 1960 and Arkansas did so in 1964. Arkansas’ claim is more widely recognized than Ole Miss’, as the Razorbacks were 11-0 after defeating Nebraska in the Cotton Bowl, while Ole Miss tied at home against an LSU team which went 5-4-1. The Rebels also try to claim championships in 1959 and 1962 by retroactive computer polls, but I can count the number of non-Ole Miss fans who count those on one hand. I don’t recognize them.

Notably, LSU was named No. 1 in five other seasons by computer polls or some other methods. The Bayou Bengals don’t recognize those titles. 1958, 2003, 2007 and 2019 count.

The participants for Super Bowl LIV will be determined tomorrow.

I really don’t care for either team in the AFC championship.

I don’t like Nashville, period, and I hated the way the late Bud Adams screwed the good people of Houston by sabotaging the Oilers following their 1993 playoff loss to the Chiefs to ensure fans would stay away from the Astrodome and the NFL would approve the move to Tennessee.

Chiefs fans have become arrogant and entitled the past two seasons. They’re saying it is their right to be in Super Bowl LIV after they were screwed by the officials and the overtime rules in last year’s AFC championship game vs. the Patriots. No, the Chiefs weren’t screwed. Don’t fall behind by an ungodly amount of points on your home field, even if you were playing the Patriots.

If I HAD to pick a side, it would be the Chiefs, since they haven’t been to the Super Bowl since January 1970. Besides, I know a few Chiefs fans, although many have become as cocky as Royals fans were during their glory years of 2014 and ’15.

I don’t like anything about Nashville. NOT A DAMN THING. I hated the place when I visited for LSU baseball games vs. Vanderbilt. Nashville looks down its nose at Memphis as a crime-ridden hellhole whose musical icon could dance and not sing and became a morbidly obese drug addict at the end, and think East Tennessee is nothing but hillbillies riding around with shotguns in the back of pickups. And don’t get me started on how Nashville has an NHL team and Quebec City and Hartford don’t.

Sorry, but I’ll listen to Elvis over any country music which came out after 1989 any time. Last I checked, the University of Tennessee, a nuclear power plant and many hydroelectric plants are in East Tennessee.

As for the NFC, I don’t dislike the Packers, but I would rather not see Aaron Rodgers highlights on NFL Network and ESPN 18 hours a day. Even worse, we’d see more of Danica Patrick than a human should have to. It would be nice for Kyle Shanahan to lead the 49ers to a championship and redeem himself for all the bad calls he made as Atlanta’s offensive coordinator when the Falcons blew that lead to the Patriots three years ago.

Here’s hoping for a lot of red in Miami Gardens. If it is 49ers-Chiefs, I’m wondering if Joe Montana will toss the coin seeing he played for both teams.

It’s been football overload this week. Thankfully after tomorrow night, nothing until 2 February (the Pro Bowl doesn’t count).

Tuning out the Tigers

You would think I would be watching LSU and Clemson play for college football’s national championship (at least for the highest level).

I’m not.

I am so convinced Clemson will win I am not watching.

The game kicked off at 19:15. I am self-censoring. The TV is off. I have set my devices to do not disturb. I am not checking any sports sites. I think I’ll go to bed really early, considering I rose at 05:00 and have a lot of work to get done tomorrow morning.

The last time I self-censored was the night of the 2016 presidential election. I watched some crap on LMN, then went to bed early. I had no earthly clue who had won what state.

I went to bed convinced Hillary would win, just as almost every major media outlet predicted.

It wasn’t until I came upstairs, where my mother had the TV tuned to Today, when I learned Trump won.

When LSU played Alabama for the BCS national championship in January 2012, I didn’t watch the game, but I made the mistake of looking at Twitter. It was there I learned just how badly LSU was getting its ass kicked by Alabama. Of course, a few jerks had to rub it in.

This season, I purposely did not watch most of the first half in LSU’s game at Alabama and the Peach Bowl vs. Oklahoma. I didn’t see a score until I came upstairs, because my mother was watching. In each of those games, the Bayou Bengals built up a big enough lead, making it okay to watch. Not tonight. It won’t be that easy vs. Clemson.

Tonight, no social media, Nothing. If I want to watch the game, I can watch a replay on ESPN+. Something tells me those wearing orange are going to be much happier tonight than those wearing purple and gold.

More sports woe in Houston.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow and Manager A.J. Hinch for the 2020 season for their roles in Houston’s sign stealing throughout the 2017 postseason, which ended with the Astros defeating the Dodgers in the World Series.

Houston was also fined $5 million, believed to be a record for a major sports league due to an on-field incident. Too bad Roger Goodell doesn’t have the guts to fine the Patriots that much.

Astros owner Jim Crane went one step farther than Manfred, immediately firing Luhnow and Hinch. Houston has a huge hole in the rotation now that Gerrit Cole is in the Bronx, but it still has many strong pieces in Justin Verlander, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Corriea and George Springer. The question is who will manage them, and who will step into this mess?

I didn’t mention the Oilers blowing the 35-3 lead in Buffalo in the 1992 playoffs, but I figured you knew about that already. It has been repeated ad nausem following the Texans’ collapse yesterday in Kansas City.

On the other hand, Chiefs fans are convinced more than ever the Super Bowl is their destiny. Mahomes is God. The Titans might as well stay in Nashville. Bring on the 49ers or Packers.

Before the season, a Kansas City Star online poll asked “What would it take for you to consider the Chiefs season a success?”. I don’t remember the exact split, but at least 80 percent said either “get to the Super Bowl” or “win the Super Bowl”. If the Titans win Sunday, mental health professionals will be in high demand in the so-called “Chiefs Kingdom”.

Good night, blogosphere. Hopefully I’m waking up to good news in a few hours…but I have my doubts.

Houston, you have yet another problem

Houston called itself “Clutch City” after the Rockets won back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 (vs. the Knicks, led by Patrick Ewing) and 1995 (vs. the Magic, sweeping an Orlando team led by Shaq).

After the last three months, a more appropriate moniker for Houston is “Choke City”.

It began with the Astros. After winning a franchise record 107 games in the regular season, Houston nearly choked in the American League Division Series vs. the Rays, needing a victory in the winner-take-all Game 5 to advance to the American League Championship Series.

The Astros ousted the Yankees in six to move into the World Series for the second time in three years, where Houston would face the Washington Nationals, who were making their first World Series appearance.

Many experts expected the Astros to win the first two games at Minute Maid Park, then go to the nation’s capital and win two of three there.

Instead, Houston lost the first two games at home. The Astros rallied to win the next three in the District of Columbia to gain the series lead, only to choke it away by losing the sixth and seventh games in Texas. It became the first best-of-seven series in any of the three major sports (MLB, NBA, NHL) which use that format where the road team won every game.

Today, the Texans joined the Astros in Houston sports infamy.

Bill O’Brien’s team built a 24-0 lead early in the second quarter of an AFC divisional playoff in Kansas City.

By halftime, the Chiefs led 28-24, as Patrick Mahomes joined Doug Williams as the only quarterbacks to throw four touchdown passes in one quarter of a playoff game. Williams did it in the second quarter of Super Bowl XXII, when the Redskins turned a 10-0 deficit vs. the Broncos into a 35-10 halftime bulge. Washington won 42-10, and Williams was the game’s Most Valuable Player.

Kansas City won 51-31 and earned the right to host Tennessee in next Sunday’s AFC championship game.

Green Bay held on to defeat Seattle 28-23 in the NFC, sending the Packers to Santa Clara to face the 49ers for the other spot in Super Bowl LIV in Miami (Gardens) Feb. 2.


A team from Houston has not played in the AFC championship game since 1979, when the Oilers lost to the Steelers for the second consecutive year. Bum Phillips’ team was hurt by the officials making a bad call on a pass to Mike Renfro which was ruled incomplete but was in fact a touchdown, but it probably wouldn’t have mattered.

Even worse, Houston fans have to watch their former team play in its third AFC championship since relocating to the Volunteer State. The Titans defeated the Jaguars in 1999 before losing to the Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV, but lost to the Raiders in 2002.



Barely an hour after the game ended at ARrowhead, a Houston Chronicle columnist wrote it was time for Texans coach Bill O’Brien to leave, reminding readers of past Houston sports failures. One of them was the famous 1983 NCAA men’s basketball title game, when Jim Valvano’s underdog North Carolina State Wolfpack shocked the mighty Houston Cougars, nicknamed “Phi Slamma Jamma” , when Lorenzo Charles caught Dereck Whittenburg’s airball and slammed it through the net with no time remaining. That Houston team featured two of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players, Clyde Drexler and (H)Akeem Olajuwon.

It wasn’t the first time a team from Kansas City stuck it to a team from Houston.

In 1993, the Oilers hosted the Chiefs in an AFC divisional game. Houston entered on an 11-game winning streak, but Kansas City, led by Joe Montana, prevailed 28-20. Following that loss, the Oilers’ fan support plummeted to subterranean depths, and after the 1996 season, they were on their way to Tennessee.

In 2015, the Astros were up 2-1 on the Royals in an American League Division Series and led Game 4 through seven innings. Kansas City rallied to win that game, won Game 5 in Kansas City, and eventually won the World Series. Houston’s 2017 World Series championship took the sting out of the 2015 setback, but the one in 2019 will be hard to forget, no matter if the Astros win another championship or not.

Despite superstars like Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady, Chris Paul and James Harden playing for the Rockets in recent years, Houston has not played for an NBA championship since 1995. The window is wide open with the Warriors in free fall, but the Rockets will be severely tested by the two Los Angeles teams in the West, and hopefully Milwaukee if they make it to the Finals.

Approximately 26 hours from now, LSU will either have completed its greatest football season ever, or one of its most disappointing. Hopefully it’s the former. However, I would feel much better about this if the opponent were wearing scarlet and gray instead of orange. Something tells me Dabo is the younger, hipper version of LSU’s former coach–the one in Tuscaloosa, not the one in Lawrence–and has a dynasty going in the the South Carolina uplands.

Partying like its 1969 (and January 1970)

Stupid mouse. Now I have to start over. Actually, I’m the stupid one for not saving my draft.

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of Super Bowl IV, when the Chiefs, led by quarterback Len Dawson, running back Mike Garrett and receiver Otis Taylor, “matriculated the ball down the field” well enough to defeat the Vikings 23-7 in the last Super Bowl to match the NFL and AFL. The merger of the leagues was to take effect after this game, per the terms of the 1966 agreement brokered by Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm, and NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle.

It was fitting the final game involving an AFL team was played in New Orleans. The Big Easy was represented in the U.S. House by Thomas Hale Boggs, who helped the NFL and AFL secure an antitrust exemption to allow for the merger. Louisiana’s junior U.S. Senator, Russell B. Long, son of Huey and nephew of Earl, was the manager of the antitrust exemption in the Senate. The bill was signed by LBJ in October 1966. As a reward, New Orleans was awarded an expansion team, which began play as the Saints in 1967.

Ironically, Hunt nearly moved the Dallas Texans to New Orleans instead of Kansas City in early 1963. There was a slight problem with that idea: segregation.

Tulane Stadium did not allow black patrons to sit in prime seating areas for Green Wave games (nor did any other stadium in the Southeastern Conference at that time). No way that would be kosher for a professional league, especially one which had a large number of black players.

No state of the former confederacy other than Texas had a professional sports franchise until the Braves moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta in 1966, but Atlanta was fortunate to have a progressive mayor, Ivan Allen, who initiated desegregation in the ATL before the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. New Orleans wasn’t as bad as Birmingham and Montgomery as far as treating blacks as a lower life form, but mayors Chep Morrison and Victor Schiro weren’t rolling out the red carpet, either.

The field at Tulane Stadium in Super Bowl IV was a mud pit. Anyone who has watched highlights of the game (there is an excellent video chronicling the game on YouTube) knows why the NFL required the Saints and Tulane to install artificial turf (Poly-Turf) in March 1971 when the Big Easy was awarded Super Bowl VI, which was played in January 1972.

Super Bowl IV was the first to be played without a week off between the league (later conference) championship games and the finale. This wouldn’t be the case again until January 1983, when the playoffs had to be expanded in the wake of the 1982 players’ strike which reduced the regular season from 16 games to 9. The next time there was only one week scheduled between the conference championships and Super Bowl was the 1990 season.

The off week is a necessity. Players need time to work out ticket arrangements, coaches need extra time to game plan, business managers need time to figure out flights and hotels, and fans need a week off from football, period (the Pro Bowl doesn’t count).

Strangely, there was a week off for the Chiefs and Raiders before the AFL championship game.

In 1969, the AFL held a semifinal playoff round, with the division champions (Jets in the East, Raiders in the West) hosting the runner-up from the opposite division (Chiefs in the West, Oilers in the East).

The AFL’s 1969 regular season ended one week earlier than the NFL’s. The weekend of Dec. 20-21 would have been used for tiebreaker games, but with no tiebreakers needed, the semifinals were held those days, with the Chiefs defeating the Jets 13-6 on Saturday and the Raiders mauling the Oilers 56-7 on Sunday.

While the AFL rested the final weekend of 1969, the NFL held its semifinals. The Vikings edged the Rams 23-20 to win the Western Conference, and the Browns crushed the Cowboys 38-14 to win the East.

The NFL championship game in Minnesota was a 27-7 rout for the Vikings, and it wasn’t that close. Cleveland was probably glad to be going to the AFC after losing 52-14 to the Cowboys in the 1967 semifinals and 34-0 to the Colts in the 1968 NFL championship.

The AFL championship provided much more drama.

Kansas City was seething its last four games to Oakland.

After the Chiefs won 24-10 in Kansas City in 1968 in a game where Hank Stram used the Straight-T formation and passed only three times, the Raiders rolled over the Chiefs twice in Oakland, 38-21 and 41-6, the latter being a playoff for the AFL Western Division title. The Raiders lost the AFL championship to the Jets, who went on to prove Joe Namath prophetic.

In 1969, the Raiders swept the Chiefs, 27-24 in Kansas City and 10-6 in Oakland.

The Raiders, coached by a 33-year old newbie named John Madden, had their suitcases loaded onto buses in the Oakland Coliseum parking lot. If Oakland won, it would immediately head to San Francisco International Airport and fly to New Orleans that night.

Oakland scored in the first quarter to go ahead 7-0, but that was all.

Kansas City’s “Redwood Forest” defense, led by five future Hall of Famers, hled the Raiders the rest of the way, and the Chiefs rallied to win 17-7 for their third AFL championship and second trip to the Super Bowl.

The Vikings were immediately installed as 14-point favorites. Many experts, especially those loyal to the NFL like Sports Illustrated’s Tex Maule and notorious gambler Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder, thought the Jets’ victory in Super Bowl III was a fluke. On the other hand, many of the Chiefs on the team in 1969 were on the field in Los Angeles three years prior, and Kansas City’s defense was superior to New York’s.

On the Tuesday prior to the Super Bowl, NBC’s Huntley-Brinkley Report broke news of several NFL players who had ties to a Detroit bookmaker, Donald “Dice Dawson”. The two most prominent names on the list were Namath (no surprise) and Len Dawson (shocking).

Six hours after the report aired, Stram addressed the media and had Len Dawson, no relation to Dice, read a statement. Stram and his quarterback vehemently denied the report. It turned out the reports were false. So much for there not being fake news in 1970.

Namath ran afoul of Rozelle in the summer of 1969 after it was discovered gamblers and mafia members were hanging out at Bachelor’s III, the Manhattan bar Namath owned. Rozelle ordered Namath to divest himself of holdings in Bachelor’s III. Namath initially refused and retired, but one month later, he reversed course and returned to the Jets. I’m guessing Bear Bryant had a lot to do with Namath coming back, much more so than Weeb Ewbank.

The Vikings featured the NFL’s best defense in 1969, led by the “Purple Gang”. Minnesota’s defense had three future Hall of Famers in end Carl Eller, tackle Alan Page and safety Paul Krause, as well as end Jim Marshall, an ironman who played in 282 consecutive games over 19 seasons. How Marshall isn’t in the Hall of Fame is a travesty.

Stram thought he could beat the Vikings with short, quick passes to the sideline with his speedy receivers, Taylor and Frank Pitts. The key was to make sure Eller and Marshall were blocked. To do this, Stram had a running back and/or tight end Fred Arbanas assist his tackles, Jim Tyrer (on Marshall) and Dave Hill (on Eller) chip the ends.

“King Henry” also ran reverses, traps and counters to take advantage of Page’s quickness and keep him off-balance.

On defense, Stram often shifted one of his tackles, Buck Buchanan or Curley Culp (both are in the Hall of Fame), directly over Minnesota’s All-Pro center, Mick Tinglehoff. All NFL teams were running the standard 4-3 defense in 1969, which meant centers could fire out and block a middle linebacker instead of having to deal with a man right on him.

By putting Culp or Buchanan on Tinglehoff, it freed middle linebacker Willie Lanier, another future Hall of Famer, to roam free where needed.

Minnesota’s offense, while effective, was primitive in 1969. With Fran Tarkenton in New York and Chuck Foreman and John Gilliam still years away, the Vikings relied mostly on two straight-ahead runners, Bill Brown and Dave Osborn, and reckless quarterback Joe Kapp, whose wobbly passes were similar to those thrown by Billy Kilmer, the Saints’ starting quarterback at that time.

Stram, at the request of NFL Films President/Executive Producer Ed Sabol and son Steve, agreed to wear a wireless microphone during the game. When the highlights of Super Bowl IV were released in the summer of 1970, it became the gold standard for all future NFL Films productions.

The Chiefs took a 9-0 lead on three Jan Stenerud field goals, then caught a huge break in the second quarter when Charlie West fumbled a kickoff. Kansas City lineman Remi Prudhomme, who played on the same field for LSU in its victory over Syracuse in the 1965 Sugar Bowl, recovered, setting up the Chiefs in the red zone.

With second and goal on the Vikings 6-yard line, Stram famously called for “65 Toss Power Trap”.

In what became one of the most iconic play calls in Super Bowl history, the Chiefs offensive line influenced Page and Eller to their left, and with Marshall sealed off by Tyrer, Garrett ran through a gaping hole to the game’s first touchdown. Kansas City led 16-0, and that was the score at halftime.

The halftime show at Super Bowl IV featured a recreation of the Battle of New Orleans. Bad idea. A couple of the actors portraying soldiers lost fingers, and what was left of the grass on the field was gone.

Minnesota drove to a touchdown by Osborn in the third quarter to make it 16-7, but Kansas City put the game away for good later in the period when Taylor took a short pass at the right sideline, broke an attempted tackle by Viking cornerback Earsell Mackbee, then outran Karl Kassulke the rest of the way to a 46-yard touchdown.

Chiefs 23, Vikings 7 would be the final. Dawson was named Most Valuable Player, and President Nixon called the winning coach and quarterback in the locker room.

Kansas City hasn’t been back to the Super Bowl. The closest the Chiefs have come were AFC championship game losses to the Bills in 1993 and Patriots in 2018. The most crushing playoff loss was on Christmas Day 1971, when a strong Chiefs team lost to the upstart Dolphins in the NFL’s longest game (82 minutes, 40 seconds of playing time) in what turned out to be the final football match at Municipal Stadium.

Minnesota got back to the Super Bowl three times over the next seven seasons, but each game wasn’t close. The Vikings lost 24-7 to the Dolphins in VIII, 16-6 to the Steelers in IX (the last NFL game at Tulane Stadium; my parents were there, if only for a half), and 32-14 to the Raiders in XI. Minnesota lost NFC championship games in 1977, 1987, 1998, 2000 and 2009.

The Vikings’ drought is guaranteed to last another year, thanks to their 27-10 loss to the 49ers yesterday in Santa Clara. Seattle or Green Bay will visit Levi’s Stadium next Sunday to determine the NFC championship.

I’m wondering if older Minnesota fans or players might have had a feeling their team was cursed since the Vikings played on the 50th anniversary of Super Bowl IV.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, have a golden opportunity to end their Super Bowl drought.

If Kansas City defeats Houston this afternoon, it will host Tennessee in the AFC championship.

That’s because the Titans went to Baltimore last night and shocked the Ravens 28-12, ending Baltimore’s 12-game winning streak.

The Ravens had the NFL’s best record, 14-2, thanks in large part to Lamar Jackson’s record-setting season. The former Heisman Trophy winner from Louisville set a league record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single season, while also throwing 32 touchdown passes.

Hardly anyone gave the Titans a chance, yet the last team to qualify for the playoffs is now one win away from its first Super Bowl since 1999, when Jeff Fisher’s club lost to the St. Louis Rams’ Greatest Show on Turf.

The Titans knocked out the Patriots in the first round of the playoffs. After downing the Ravens, I’m not so certain the Chiefs or Texans might be looking forward to facing Tennessee. Then again, playing at home beats playing in Baltimore.

For Baltimore sports fans, I rate it as the biggest shocker since the Orioles lost to the Miracle Mets in the 1969 World Series.

In case you don’t know that story, the Orioles won 109 games in the regular season before sweeping the Twins in the first American League Championship Series. Baltimore had three of the American League’s most dominant pitchers in Jim Palmer, Dave McNally and Cy Young Award winner Mike Cuellar, along with a powerful lineup featuring Boog Powell, Brooks Robinson and Frank Robinson.

The Mets didn’t finish above eighth in the National League in any of their first seven seasons. Yet in 1969, Tom Seaver won the Cy Young, Jerry Koosman came of age, and a 22-year old flamethrower from Alvin, Texas named Lynn Nolan Ryan gave the club from Queens a staff just as good as Baltimore’s.

At the plate, the Mets couldn’t match the Orioles, but their outfield may have been the best defensive trio the game has seen: Cleon Jones in left, Tommie Agee in center and Ron Swoboda in right.

The Mets came from as far back as 11 games down in July to overtake the Cubs to win the National League East, then swept Hank Aaron’s Braves in the first National League Championship Game.

Baltimore won the first game of the World Series at home, but lost game two. Nobody in Charm City panicked…yet.

After the Mets blanked the Orioles 5-0 in game three, featuring two spectacular catches by Agee, Baltimore fans began to wonder if this was truly their year.

Swoboda made one of the most spectacular catches in World Series history in game four, robbing Brooks Robinson of an extra base hit which would have given the Orioles the lead. Instead, it was just a sacrifice fly which tied the game. The Mets won in the bottom of the 10th when Baltimore reliever Pete Richert’s throw hit Mets pinch hitter J.C. Martin in the arm, allowing Rod Gasper to score from second.

Baltimore led 3-0 through five innings of game five, but when Mets manager Gil Hodges proved to home plate umpire Lou DiMuro that Jones was hit by McNally by showing DiMuro a speck of shoe polish on the ball, the Orioles knew they were doomed.

Indeed they were.

Series MVP Donn Clendenon followed Jones with a two-run home run. Baltimore’s lead disappeared when Al Weis led off the seventh with a homer, and in the eighth, Swoboda doubled home Jones with what proved to be the Series-winning run. Swoboda later scored an insurance run when Powell booted a two-out grounder by Jerry Grote.

When future Mets manager Dave Johnson flied out to Jones, pandemonium erupted at Shea.

The Orioles got their World Series title in 1970 by defeating the Reds in five, and added another in ’83 with a five-game win over the Phillies. Baltimore lost to the Pirates in seven in both 1971 and ’79.

This habit of post-midnight posts is not a good one. I’ve got to cut this out.

Random football stuff

The National Football League’s 100th season kicks off tonight in Chicago when the Bears host the Packers. Really, it’s the 60th season of modern professional football and 50th of the merged NFL. The Patriots, last year’s Super Bowl champions, would normally have the honor of playing the first regular season game at home on a Thursday night, but since this is the NFL’s 100th season, the league decided its oldest rivalry should trump Brady and Belichick. Nobody outside New England is complaining, and I’m sure some Patriot fans are not upset, since they can now go to the season opener Sunday night in Foxborough vs. the Steelers who may not have been able to on a Thursday.

I’m in Kansas City, where Patrick Mahomes II, not the sun, is the center of the universe. Mahomes opens defense of his Most Valuable Player award Sunday in Jacksonville. The Chiefs don’t play at home until Sept. 22 when the Ravens and Lamar Jackson come to town.

If Kansas City isn’t 2-0 (the Chiefs play the Raiders in Oakland next week) when Baltiomre invades, there will be plenty of unhappy campers in Chiefs Kingdom. The Kansas City Star conducted a poll this week asking fans what is their realistic expecations for the Chiefs in 2019. Over a third said “winning the Super Bowl” and another 40 percent said “reaching the Super Bowl”. If that’s the case, there will hundreds of thousands of disappointed Chiefs fans come January 19 at 1830 (if not earlier), because I can’t see Kansas City defeating New England, no matter if the game’s at Arrowhead or in Foxborough.

In the NFC, the Saints had better get to the Super Bowl. They were screwed royally by incompetent officials in last year’s NFC championship game, and two years ago, they were undone by horrendous tackling which allowed the Vikings to score the game-winning touchdown on the final play. Drew Brees is 41 and can’t keep this up forever. The Saints should have no trouble winning the NFC South (should, because the Falcons will be tough if their defense improves), and if they have home field advantage, New Orleans will have a distinct advantage with its fervent fan base in the Superdome.

Saints and Patriots in Miami for Super Bowl LIV. Sounds good to me. And the Saints celebrate the 10th anniversary of their first Super Bowl championship with their second. Drew Brees rides off into the sunset on top.

Two nights before the Saints host the Texans, the states of Louisiana and Texas will have their eyes fixed on Austin.

LSU and Texas will square off for the first time in the regular season since 1954, and only the third time since then. It’s criminal the flagship universities of neighboring states, both with elite football programs, have not played a regular season game in 65 years. The only meetings since ’54 were in Cotton Bowls 40 years apart. LSU won 13-0 after the 1962 season to cap Charles McClendon’s first season at the helm, and the Longhorns prevailed 35-20 after the 2002 campaign. In each case, the loser went on to win the national championship the next season, the Longhorns under Darrell Royal and the Bayou Bengals under Nick Saban.

It would be hard for LSU and Texas to play every year, but why not four times every decade? One game in Baton Rouge, one in Austin, one in Arlington at Jerry World, and one in New Orleans. Saban wants the other Power Five schools to schedule more games against other Power Five schools, and he is dead on. This bull about helping out lower level schools by giving them big paydays doesn’t float with me.

For instance, let the small schools in Louisiana–McNeese, Southeastern, Northwestern, Nicholls, Southern, Grambling–play Louisiana Tech, UL Monroe, UL Lafayette and Tulane (although Tulane should consider itself on a higher level and try to schedule more Power Five games). LSU should not be subsidizing these schools’ athletic budgets with a football game. Doing it in men’s basketball and baseball is just fine.

Tthe SEC and ACC should be required to play nine conference games by the College Football Playoff committee. It is patently unfair the SEC and ACC play only eight conference games, then use the fourth non-conference date to schedule directional Louisiana, while the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 each play nine conference games. The Big 12 and Big Ten also up the ante by requiring teams to play a Power Five non-conference game.

Sadly, Saban is outvoted 13-1 at every SEC meeting about nine conference games. and I don’t see it changing until Saban is fishing with Ms. Terry on Lake Burton full time.

LSU should play Tulane every year, but the Bayou Bengals should demand the majority of the games be in Baton Rouge. The Green Wave will make twice as much on a game in Baton Rouge as they could ever hope to make on a game at their 30,000-seat on campus stadium, so why not? Without any travel expenses, save for the diesel fuel for the buses and possibly a hotel if the game is in the morning, the Wave will clear a bundle which would go a long, long way to helping their other programs. Yes, there should be games in New Orleans, but they have to be at the Superdome, and LSU must be guaranteed at least 40 percent of the ticket allotment.

If I were in charge of LSU football scheduling, it would be Tulane, a Power Five foe (ACC and Big 12 would get first priority, but Big Ten and Pac-12 would be worked in), and a nearby foe, such as one of the other three FBS teams in Louisiana (Tech, Mornoe, Lafayette) or antoher southern team (Southern Miss, Memphis, UAB, SMU). If the SEC. is obstinate about not adding the ninth conference game, then LSU should sechedule a second Power Five.

High school football starts in my native state and my home state this weekend.

I’m still pissed Kansas refuses to find a single site for its championship games. To me, it reduces title games to just another game; the only difference is it’s played on Saturday afternoon at 1300 instead of Friday night at 1900. If I were a high school player in Kansas, I would be livid that my title game could be on another high school field or a junior college field instead of the stadiums at KU and K-State, or at Children’s Mercy Park, where Sporting Kansas City plays.

Louisiana has played at the Superdome since 1981 (save 2005, when the damage from Hurricane Katrina forced a relocation to Shreveport), but I wish they were at Tiger Stadium. That won’t happen, thanks to a lot of people who don’t want to move them out of New Orleans, and LSU, scared to death its field will get torn to bits. If Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss and Mississippi State can host high school championship games on its fields, why can’t LSU?

Ah, the mysteries of life.

Hail to the Chiefs

I’m not a Kansas City Chiefs fan, despite living in Kansas for the last 14 years and having ties to the state all my life thanks to my father and paternal grandfather.

In this post, however, I’m going to throw Chiefs fans some red meat by naming two more on my list of the greatest National Football League players by jersey number.

So far, #64 (Jerry Kramer) and #73 (John Hannah) have been revealed. Before I reveal the next two, I need to make an addition.

I’d like to add Bob Baumhower, who played defensive tackle and nose tackle for the Dolphins from 1977-86, to the honorable mention list at #73.

Baumhower was an All-Pro in the middle when Bill Arnsparger went to the 3-4 defense full time in the late 1970s. He usually tied up two or three blockers, allowing Miami’s linebackers and defensive ends, Doug Betters and Kim Bokamper, to more easily attack the opposing backfield. Many of the blocks against Baumhower were cut blocks, which is a reason why he had so many knee injuries and forced to retire sooner than he would have liked.

Before playing for Miami, Baumhower was an All-American for Bear Bryant at Alabama, where he dated future television and movie superstar Sela Ward. When his playing career was over, Baumhower returned to Alabama and opened one of the state’s most successful restaurants, a wing chain which has locations in every major city in the Yellowhammer State.

Had Baumhower played with the No-Name Defense, he might be in the Hall of Fame. As it is, he was a tremendous player when healthy, which sadly, wasn’t enough to keep the Dolphins from struggling to stop anyone during Dan Marino’s record-setting 1984 season. That was especially evident in Super Bowl XIX, when the Joe Montana carved up the Killer B’s like a turkey. The 49ers gained 537 yards and won 38-16, with Montana taking home Most Valuable Player honors for the second time (he did it again five years later).

Baumhower was helped immensely by battling two future Hall of Fame centers in practice, Jim Langer and Dwight Stephenson, an ex-Crimson Tide teammate.

Miami hasn’t had a defensive tackle of Baumhower’s ability since his retirement. Little wonder the Dolphins have played in one AFC championship game (1992) in that time.

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Okay Chiefs fans, here’s your steak.

Buck Buchanan was an easy choice for the greatest #86 in NFL history.

Buchanan was drafted out of Grambling in 1963, the first pick for the franchise after Lamar Hunt moved the Dallas Texans to Kansas City. Grambling was a black college superpower under legendary coach Eddie Robinson, but in the era of segregation, few noticed. For the record, LSU did not have a black player on its varsity until 1972.

Yet in 1963, Grambling had gotten notice among NFL scouts and coaches, thanks to the exploits of Willie Davis, who blossomed into an All-Pro defensive end for the Packers, who won back-to-back league championships under Vince Lombardi in 1961 and ’62.

Buchanan immediately moved into the starting lineup at right defensive tackle and stayed there for the next 13 seasons. Not only was Buchanan one of the largest players of his era at 6-foot-7, 280 pounds, but one of the quickest. His strength allowed him to overcome double teams, and his speed gave him the grace to chase down ballcarriers.

The Chiefs defense which helped them win Super Bowl IV was quite underrated. Six Hall of Famers started that day in New Orleans: Buchanan, Curley Culp, Bobby Bell, Willie Lanier, Emmitt Thomas and Johnny Robinson. Now why were the Vikings a 13-point favorite?

Buchanan was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990, but passed away from cancer two years later.

The number 63 was a little bit more difficult, but went with Buchanan’s teammate, Willie Lanier.

Lanier, like Buchanan, was a product of the black college system.

Morgan State in Baltimore was on par with Grambling. The two schools routinely faced each other in large venues like Yankee Stadium and Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium, often drawing 60,000 fans or more, many of whom were white. Two future Hall of Famers, Len Ford and Rosey Brown, played for Morgan in the 1950s, and in the 1960s, Lanier was a teammate of Leroy Kelly, who went on to a Hall of Fame career as Jim Brown’s successor in Cleveland.

Hank Stram sensed a glaring weakness at linebacker after his Chiefs were crushed by the Packers in Super Bowl I. He had Bobby Bell on the strong side, but his middle and weak side men were not up to par.

That got fixed in one draft when Stram took Lanier and Notre Dame All-American Jim Lynch. It was assumed Lynch would play the middle and Lanier the weak side, as no professional team at the time had a black middle linebacker.

Wrong.

Stram showed confidence in Lanier by plugging him into the middle from the get-go. It was a wise move, as Lanier was a consistent All-Pro throughout his 11-year career. In 1986, he became the second member of the Chiefs’ Super Bowl IV defense to earn Hall of Fame induction, following Bobby Bell, who was enshrined in 1983.

Honorable mention: Gene Upshaw (Raiders G, 1967-81); Lee Roy Selmon (Buccaneers DE, 1976-84); Mike Munchak (Oilers G, 1982-93)

So far, here’s the list:

#63–Willie Lanier; HM: Gene Upshaw, Lee Roy Selmon, Mike Munchak

#64–Jerry Kramer; HM: Randall McDaniel, Dave Wilcox

#73–John Hannah; HM: Ron Yary, Joe Klecko, Larry Allen, Leo Nomellini, Joe Thomas, Bob Baumhower

#86–Buck Buchanan

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I left home without my American Express card this morning when I went to Hays. Lucky for me, (a) the service for my Buick did not cost as much as I feared, and (b) I had a $50 bill. Don’t leave home without it!

I don’t like cash. It’s a lot easier to insert the card into the chip reader or use Apple Pay. Again, America, slow to get with the times.