Blog Archives

The missing legend—and great guard play

When I last posted Tuesday evening, I mentioned about my first meeting with three LSU athletics legends, none of whom took the field for the Bayou Bengals. All three–Kent Lowe, Bill Franques and Dan Borne–are still alive and well in Baton Rouge, still proudly representing the purple and gold.

The man I knew prior to the 1994 football media day, Herb Vincent, has gone on to bigger and better things as an associate commissioner of the Southeastern Conference. I was sadly disappointed he didn’t become LSU’s athletic director when Skip Bertman retired in 2008, but Herb, Jamey and Kennedy are very happy in Birmingham.

There was someone else I should have met at the 1994 football media day.

Instead, Michael Bonnette was at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, recuperating after knee surgery.

Michael suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in a recreational softball game earlier in August. He had just been hired full-time by Herb after five years as a student assistant and graduate assistant in the sports information (now sports communications) office. Michael had the unenviable task of promoting the LSU women’s basketball team during its darkest period, one which saw the Lady Tigers suffer three consecutive losing season, bottoming out at 7-20 in 1994-95 and nearly causing coach Sue Gunter to lose her job. Fortunately, LSU turned it around beginning in 1995-96 and Gunter eventually was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Sadly, she died in August 2005 of cancer as LSU was in the midst of five consecutive trips to the Final Four.

Michael’s bloodlines destined him for a job in the sports media business. His father, Louis, became McNeese State’s sports information director in 1966, and it was assumed Michael would replace him. Michael made his way 125 miles east and stayed there, but the Cowboys’ post is still in the family, since younger brother Matthew assumed it upon Louis’ retirement in 2011. Louis’ legacy at McNeese is secure, as the playing surface at Cowboy Stadium is named for him.

I met Michael the week before classes started. There were plenty of times I wanted to be far away from him, but the times he bailed me out of trouble and supported me far, far, far outnumbered the bad ones.

In 2000, Michael succeeded Herb as leader of the LSU sports information office and enters his 20th football season at the helm. Michael has lived through the full tenures of three football coaches, worked under four athletic directors, and has witnessed the women’s basketball coaching position pass from Gunter to Pokey Chatman to (temporarily) Bob Starkey to Van Chancellor and now to Nikki Caldwell-Fargas.

Just like the late, great Paul Manasseh groomed Herb for the job, just as Herb groomed Michael for the job, Michael has groomed his students for other jobs, most notably Bill Martin, who’s now in charge at Mississippi State. Michael and Bill are both from Lake Charles, although they went to rival high schools (Michael to LaGrange, Bill to Barbe).

Herb, Kent, Bill, Dan and Michael all deserve sainthood for putting up with me all those year. Unlike the others, Michael isn’t Catholic, so I’d have to see if the Vatican will give him an exemption.

Herb’s adroit handling of Curley Hallman’s four years of misery also deserves him sainthood. I would have gone nuts trying to deal with both sides.

##########################################################################

With this being the National Football League’s 100th season, I’m trying to compile a list of the greatest player at each uniform number.

I can already tell you two of the winners on my list. I never saw either play live, but thanks to NFL Films, I could tell they were legends by time I was 11.

Number 64 is Jerry Kramer, the author and Packers guard who was the brawn behind Vince Lombardi’s famed “power sweep”. Teaming with Fuzzy Thurston and later Gale Gillingham, Jimmy Taylor, Paul Hornung, Elijah Pitts and Donny Anderson all found plenty of green grass in front of them after defenders had been wiped out by the green and gold marauders.

It was a damn shame Kramer had to wait 44 years to get into the Hall of Fame. He should have been a first ballot inductee in 1974, or at worst, inducted by 1988, his last year of eligibility on the writer’s ballot. Thank God this was rectified in 2018, and even better, Kramer was able to give his induction speech on stage in Canton despite being 82 years old. Several men his age were unable to give a live induction speech (Hank Stram, Mick Tinglehoff, Johnny Robinson), or worse, passed away before their enshrinement. With the passing of Forrest Gregg and Bart Starr earlier this year, and Jimmy Taylor’s passing last October, Kramer, Willie Davis, Dave Robinson, Herb Adderley and Willie Wood are the last of the living greats who played for Lombardi.

Old Jerry was also a fine placekicker. In the 1962 NFL championship game, Kramer sliced three field goals and a extra point through vicious winds at Yankee Stadium, providing the margin of victory in Green Bay’s 16-7 triumph over the Giants.

Kramer, drafted in 1958 in the third round out of Idaho, missed the entire 1964 season when he needed to have slivers of wood removed from his abdomen, an operation which nearly killed him. He recovered to play four more seasons, helping the Packers win three consecutive NFL championships and the first two Super Bowls. He retired following the 1968 season.

Runners-up: Dave Wilcox (49ers LB, 1964-74); Randall McDaniel (Vikings G, 1989-2001)

Number 73 was slightly more challenging. Very slightly.

Like Kramer, this man also was a great offensive guard.

John Hannah toiled for 13 seasons for the Patriots and is, in my opinion, still the greatest to play for the franchise. Sorry (not sorry), Tom Brady.

Hannah was a two-time consensus All-American for Bear Bryant at Alabama, where he led the Crimson Tide to unprecedented offensive success in the Wishbone, which Bryant adopted in 1971 after seasons of 6-5 and 6-5-1 in 1969 and ’70. He is still regarded by many as the greatest offensive lineman to ever play college football.

Chuck Fairbanks, who took the Patriots job in January 1973 after six seasons at Oklahoma, wasted no time in selecting Hannah in the first round. By 1976, the Patriots reached the playoffs for the first time since 1963, and Hannah was a big reason, opening huge holes for Sam “Bam” Cunningham while giving Steve Grogan more than enough time to spot Russ Francis, and later, Stanley Morgan.

Hannah reached the Super Bowl with the Patriots in 1985, his final season. The Bears’ 46 defense, led by Dan Hampton, Mike Singletary and Richard Dent, proved to be too much for New England, which lost 46-10.

The Patriots won the AFC East in 1986, but starting in 1987, they went into a steep decline, bottoming out in 1990 when they went 1-15 and were outscored 446-181.

That wasn’t the worst thing which happened to New England in 1990.

Four players were charged with sexually harassing Boston Globe sportswriter Lisa Olson, and owner Victor Kiam doubled down by calling Olson a “classic b***h”. Two years later, the Patriots very nearly moved to St. Louis, but the hiring of Bill Parcells in 1993 and Robert Kraft’s purchase of the franchise in 1994 kept the team in Massachusetts.

Sadly, the good feelings about Kraft would evaporate a few years later.

Runners-up: Ron Yary (Vikings OT, 1968-82); Joe Klecko (Jets DL, 1977-87); Leo Nomellini (49ers DT/OT, 1950-63)

Hello, I’m David AWOL Steinle

SEVENTEEN DAYS since I last posted to Foots Prints? Unacceptable. If you have been waiting for me to post (you know who you are, wink wink), I am sorry. I am not attempting to hide anything. It’s just I’ve been bone lazy.

Not sleeping properly has been a huge issue. Since my return from Kansas City Jan. 29, I have not been in a regular sleep routine. I’ve stayed up through the night on Sundays and Mondays the last two weeks to make sure my work is done. In turn, on days when I don’t have work to do, all I want to do is sleep.

My laundry is piling up, but since I’ve hardly left the house the last two weeks, it isn’t as bad as it could be. I have not been showering regularly, and the basement at 1224 North Brooks, Russell, Kansas is starting to stink.

The lack of sleep left me so confused last week that when High Plains Mental Health called me for a last-minute appointment with Crista, I forgot what day it was. When Janelle told me 10 am tomorrow, I thought the day was Wednesday and I wouldn’t have time to go. Fortunately, the appointment was for 10 am Wednesday and it was only Tuesday.

I missed my trip to Norton last Friday because of my horrendous sleep habits. I was feeling so awful Friday morning, battling sleep deprivation and heartburn, that when I woke up for a few minutes, I went right back to bed. By time I got up for good, it was already 1600. Another wasted day.

I’m groggy as hell this morning. I’m killing time in Hays between appointments. Got the car serviced, now waiting for another doctor’s appointment.

A lot has gone on since my last post. I won’t bore you with regurgitating some of what’ happened, but here are my thoughts:

Super Bowl LIII–I watched the second half. I did not watch the first half. I should have just kept not watching.

My interest was piqued when I read the push notification from CBS Sports that the halftime score was 3-0 Patriots. So I turned over just out of curiosity.

It only served to anger me even more. I strongly dislike Brady and Belichick, and of course the Rams should not have been in the Super Bowl in the first place. The Saints would have given New England a far better game. Whether Brees and Payton would have taken the Lombardi trophy back to New Orleans, I don’t know.

God, the Rams were pathetic. First team in 47 years not to score a touchdown in a Super Bowl and only the second ever. The other was the 1971 Dolphins, who were throttled by the Cowboys in Super Bowl VI. At least in that one, Dallas was heavily favored and Miami wasn’t known for an offense which could crank out yards and points at a breakneck pace.

Jared Goff looked a lot like a couple of other California quarterbacks have in a Super Bowl, Joe Kapp (1969 Vikings) and Craig Morton (1970 Cowboys and 1977 Broncos). Sean McVay barely using Todd Gurley also was perplexing.

Of course, the nauseating talk of Brady being the greatest of all time ramped up as soon as it became obvious the Patriots would win. Yes, Brady has won more championships than any other quarterback in professional football. That is an empirical fact. I cannot deny it because it is true and proven.

To call Brady the greatest ever? Come on. Would Brady have fared so well when Sammy Baugh, Johnny Unitas, Bart Starr, Fran Tarkenton, Roger Stabauch and Bob Griese were in their heydays? HELL NO. Before 1978, receivers could be hit all over the field, as long as it was from the front or side, and it came before the ball was in the air. Pass blockers had to keep their arms close to their chest, because they could not use their hands, nor could they extend their arms.

Brady is fortunate he is playing in an era where quarterbacks are treated more delicately than the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Would he have succeeded 40 to 50 years ago? Can’t say. However, I’m certain Unitas would have lit it up if he could have payed under Brady’s rules.

Six days after Super Bowl LIII mercifully ended, a new football league kicked off.

It’s called the Alliance of American Football. It has eight teams which will play 10 regular season games between now and mid-April, then hold a two-week playoff to determine the champion.

There are no kickoffs in the AAF. The team which was scored upon starts a new possession at its own 25-yard line. The only way the team which scored can keep the ball is by converting a 4th and 12 from its own 28, and the opportunities for those are extremely limited. The only times a team may attempt the “onside kick” play are (a) if it trails by 17 or more, or (b) if a team is behind with less than five minutes remaining.

In other words, Sean Payton wouldn’t like this one bit. Remember, the Saints successfully attempted an onside kick to start the second half of Super Bowl XLIV, and that turned the tide in New Orleans’ favor vs. Peyton Manning’s Colts.

The AAF also does not allow blitzing. A maximum of five players can rush the passer, meaning offenses do not have to keep in backs and/or tight ends to block if they so choose. The idea is not to make the games so low-scoring and dull that it drives off fans. I like low-scoring games, but I’m in the minute minority on that one.

It’s easy to see the level of football in the AAF is below that of the NFL. However, if the league sticks to its idea of being a developmental league and doesn’t try to become an equal to the NFL like the first XFL, USFL and World Football League did, it can find a niche in the American sports scene.

The Milwaukee Bucks have the NBA’s best record at the All-Star break for the first time since 1974. Holy crap. The Bucks? The team Adam Silver wanted to move out of Milwaukee if Wisconsin didn’t build a new arena? In case you don’t know, the Bucks’ starting lineup in 1974 included Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabber. I hear they were pretty good.

The Maple Leafs are trying to plug along without Auston Matthews, and with a leaky defense. Here’s hoping they can turn it on come April. I’m nauseated by the thought of a Tampa Bay-Nashville final.

LSU’s men’s basketball team won in Lexington Tuesday. The Bayou Bengals are alive and well under second year coach Will Wade, who wasn’t born when LSU went 17-1 in the SEC and 31-5 overall in 1980-81. That year, LSU made the Final Four, only to get stomped by Indiana and Isaiah Thomas.

It would be lovely for LSU to come to Kansas City for the Midwest Regional in late March and lay it on a certain team from Lawrence. Or the one from Manhattan. Knowing my luck, LSU will be put in the west.

The designated hitter is coming to the National League. It’s only a matter of time. I am angry as hell. I’ll save that for later.

The United States of America is screwed. Royally screwed. When you’ve got ideological demagogues like Trump, Steve King, Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ihlan Omar getting elected, not to mention Maxine Waters spending three decades in the House, it tells you something is totally F***ED up.

Edwin Edwards was corrupt during his four terms as Governor of Louisiana, but he wasn’t a hate monger and he wasn’t incompetent. I’d vote for him over any of the other jackasses we have now.

That’s all for now.

If it’s not the Chiefs, it doesn’t mean squat in KC

Kansas City (Mahomesland) is oblivious to the outside world today. The only thing which matters to most in the city of 460,000, and the metropolitan area of 2.5 million, is what will happen at Arrowhead Stadium starting at 1915 this evening.

For the uninitiated, the Kansas City Chiefs are having one of their best seasons of the 56 the team has played in the City of Fountains. The Chiefs are 11-2 heading into tonight’s game with the Los Angeles Chargers, and barring a collapse, will win the AFC West and have a first round bye in the playoffs.

Should the Chiefs win all three of their remaining games–Chargers tonight, at Seattle Dec. 23 and at home vs. Oakland Dec. 30–they will finish with their best regular season record in franchise history. Only once before have the Chiefs lost only two games in a regular season. That was 1968, when Kansas City and Oakland finished tied atop the American Football League’s West division at 12-2.

Tiebreakers were not in effect in the AFL in 1968. It wouldn’t have mattered, since the Raiders and Chiefs each beat the other in their home stadium during the regular season. Therefore, the Chiefs and Raiders had to play a third time for the West division championship, with the winner heading to New York to face Joe Namath’s Jets for the AFL berth in Super Bowl III.

As fate had it, the Chiefs lost the coin toss to determine the home team, so they had to jet to Oakland. Sure enough, the Raiders were lying in wait, and won 41-6. The Raiders lost 27-23 to the Jets in the AFL championship game, and…most football fans and those who aren’t football fans probably know the rest.

Due to the Chiefs not making the playoffs despite going 12-2 in 1968, the AFL allowed the second place teams in each division qualify for the playoffs in 1969, the last year before the merger with the NFL. Kansas City went 11-3 compared to Oakland’s 12-1-1 that season, and the Raiders won both meetings. However, with new life due to the expanded playoffs, the Chiefs took full advantage, winning in New York AND Oakland before rolling over Minnesota in Super Bowl IV.

Back to the present. The Chiefs are on the verge of having the best record in the AFC for just the fourth time since the merger. Each time the Chiefs had that distinction, they lost in their first playoff game: 1971 to the Dolphins in the famous double overtime Christmas marathon, 1995 to the Colts, who had to win their last regular season game just to squeeze into the playoffs, and 1997 to the Broncos, who finally ended their Super Bowl hex when they defeated the Packers three weeks after.

Back to the present. The Chiefs NEED home field advantage in the playoffs (not counting the Super Bowl, which is in Atlanta), since Thomas Edward Brady and his New England Patriots are nearly invincible at Foxborough during the postseason. The Patriots won two AFC championship games in Pittsburgh in 2001 and ’04, but since then, they have failed to reach the Super Bowl when they have to travel in the postseason. Baltimore has won twice in Foxborough (2009 wild card, 2012 AFC Championship), but it is not worth pressing your luck if you’re Andy Reid.

If Kansas City wins tonight, it will need to only defeat Seattle or Oakland to clinch home field. The Seattle game is almost a throwaway, since it’s against an NFC team and has no bearing on tiebreakers. However, the Patriots have the won that counts the most, winning 43-40 over the Chiefs at Foxborough the night after my birthday.

Red is the color of the day. But instead of green, it’s complimented by gold.

I’m in my usual area of Kansas City near KCI. I want nothing to do with Interstate 70 today. Fans are being encouraged to arrive at Arrowhead by 1600 if at all possible, because after that, I-70 will be jammed with cars driving from downtown towards Interstate 435, and further east of the stadiums towards Independence and Blue Springs. Many downtown stadiums, such as the Superdome, don’t have as many traffic worries for weeknight games, since people are coming into downtown, but in Kansas City, it’s different, since the stadiums are 8 to 10 miles (14 to 22 km) east of downtown. Add in the fans who will be coming from Kansas, and it will add up to hell on the highways.

I’m tired. I might not make it to the end of the game. I don’t care who wins. I’m not a Chiefs fan. My loyalties lie with the team in my native city, and to a couple of others. The Chargers are due to win since losing nine straight to Kansas City, including a 38-28 setback on opening day at Carson, when Chiefs fans outnumbered Chargers fans 3 to 2. However, if Melvin Gordon, the Chargers’ top running back and one of the best in the game, doesn’t play, I just can’t see Phillip Rivers carrying the team by himself.

The Chiefs should win. But anything can happen in the NFL, especially in a division game between two teams which are a combined 21-5.

Posting for the sake of posting

I was so dead tired yesterday after driving back to Russell. I kept falling asleep.

It’s been more than 48 hours since Super Bowl LII ended, and I still am in disbelief the Eagles won. I’m glad they did. I have had it up to here with the Patriots winning so much. If Belchick and Brady weren’t such egotistical jerks, it wouldn’t be so bad. But because Belichick is anti-social and Brady is arrogant, it makes it easy to dislike that team.

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was all set to be the head coach of the Colts, but this evening, he reneged and decided to stay with Belichick and Brady. McDaniels was a colossal failure during a brief stint as Broncos head coach in 2009 and most of 2010. He alienated just about everyone within Denver’s organization, and nobody was sad to see him go. Maybe Indianapolis dodged a bullet.

I really don’t have anything else to add. My title for this post pretty much sums it up. Time to get some sleep. I should have been in bed two hours ago, honestly.

 

Steinle on sports, 1/24/2018

I forgot to mention this last night about new Arizona Cardinals coach Steve Wilks…

…his birthday is August 8, 1969. That means he was born only hours before Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenewinkel, Leslie Van Houten and Tex Watson went to 10050 Cielo Drive in Los Angeles and brutally murdered Sharon Tate and five others on orders from Charles Manson. It’s just a coincidence, but I hope it’s not a metaphor for Wilks’ tenure with the Cardinals.

==========================

Anyone who thought the Jaguars would defeat the Patriots last Sunday for the AFC championship was a fool.

The Patriots rallied from a 14-3 deficit and won on a touchdown pass from Brady to Danny Amendola with less than three minutes left.

Thrilling? I don’t think so, because for New England, it’s par for the course.

I honestly believe the Patriots get satisfaction out of falling behind and coming back, just to jerk viewers around. The early deficits the Patriots fall into lull fans of the opponent into a false belief the opponent will win, but when the chips are down, Brady will make the plays needed for his team to win, giving the proverbial middle finger to the fans of the NFL’s 31 other teams.

If you need any proof, look at Super Bowl LI. I watched last year at Buffalo Wild Wings, and even when the Falcons were up 28-3, I KNEW the Patriots were going to come back and win, even as those around me were cheering wildly for the Falcons (Kansas City really hates the Patriots, maybe more so than the Broncos and Raiders, which is hard to believe). Why? Thomas Edward Brady and William Stephen Belichick.

In Super Bowl XLIX, the Patriots were down 24-14 to the Seahawks entering the fourth quarter. Two Brady touchdown passes later, New England is ahead. Then Malcolm Butler makes the play of the game with the interception at the goal line. Again, the Patriots tell the rest of NFL nation “F YOU!”.

Super Bowl XXXVI, the first Brady-Belichick Super Bowl, saw a reversal of the above, but the same outcome. New England led 17-3, but winning in a blowout just wasn’t its style, even though Brady and Belichick were only in their second seasons with the Patriots. The Rams’ comeback to tie simply allowed Brady to be the hero and Belichick to look like a genius when the Patriots drove downfield in the game’s final two minutes to win on Adam Vinatieri’s field goal on the final play, rather than play for overtime as John Madden suggested the Patriots do.

If the Eagles take a big lead in Minneapolis on the evening of February 4, do NOT get excited. It’s all a big tease. The Patriots will find a way to screw you and win another Super Bowl. It’s their modus operandi, and frankly, Brady and Belichick like it that way. What fun is there in winning every game 42-7?

==========================

The Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2018 will consist of Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome, Trevor Hoffman, Alan Trammell and Jack Morris. The first four earned the requisite 75 percent from the Baseball Writers Association of America, while Trammell and Morris were inducted by a special Veterans Committee late last year.

To me, Morris is being inducted based upon one game, the 10-inning shutout he pitched for the Twins in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series vs. the Braves. Yes, he was the ace of World Series championship teams with the Tigers (1984) and Blue Jays (1992) as well as the Twins, but a 254-186 career record, a 3.90 career earned run average and a 1.296 WHIP (walks plus hits divided by innings pitched) doesn’t scream Hall of Famer.

Personally, I would much rather have seen Jim Kaat, who won 283 games in 25 seasons with the Twins, White Sox and Cardinals, among other teams, get in before Morris. Kaat had a better career ERA (3.45), and he was one of the best fielding pitchers of all-time.

Trammell was a .285 career hitter and one of the best defensive shortstops of his time, although he was overshadowed by Ozzie Smith. He was the anchor of maybe the beset double play combination of the last 50 years, playing alongside Lou Whitaker for 19 seasons in Detroit. He also was very loyal to the Tigers despite the team falling apart in the latter years of his career and two ownership changes.

I’m not going to argue with the four voted in by the BBWA. All very worthy. Thome, Chipper and “Vlad the Impaler” were among the most imposing sluggers of the 1990s and early 2000s, while Hoffman was a lights-out closer during his long and distinguished career, mostly with mediocre or worse teams in San Diego.

I was very happy to see Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Edgar Martinez all fail in their bids for the Hall. However, I know sooner or later some or all of them will make it to Cooperstown, so nothing I say here is going to really change anything. Besides, it won’t change the grand scheme of the world.

I am against Bonds, Clemens and Sosa making it because they were on performance enhancing drugs. Same with Rafael Palmeiro. All four do not deserve to be in the Hall because they disgraced the game of baseball.

Martinez didn’t take PEDs, but he was half a player for most of his career. I think the designated hitter is the most abhorrent thing in all of sports. Cannot stand it. Martinez was mostly a DH during his long career with the Mariners, and while his supporters point to his gaudy numbers, I say all he had to do was bat and never had to worry about fielding. He could go to the cage underneath the stadium while the Mariners were on defense and get his cuts in, while others who played the field didn’t have that luxury.

Martinez will likely get in next year or in 2020, and I’m resigned to the fact David Ortiz, another player who was mostly a DH, will get in on the first ballot. But that doesn’t mean I have to like the DH. I never will. NEVER. And God helps us if the National League ever adopts it.

==========================

The possibility of an all-hot weather Stanley Cup Final may become a reality later this year. Tampa Bay, Vegas and Nashville are all near the top of the NHL’s overall standings, and the prospect really sickens me.

I’m sorry, but I don’t think the NHL has any business in places like South Florida, Tampa, Raleigh-Durham, Nashville, Las Vegas and Arizona. I am not really happy with a team in Dallas, or two teams in the Los Angeles area, either. If you get down to it, you can’t play hockey outdoors in Washington DC during the winter, either, and it’s an iffy proposition at best in Philadelphia and St. Louis.

Canada should have at least 10 NHL teams. One in every mainland province at least, which means Saskatchewan should have a club. Quebec City should have one. Toronto could easily support two. So could Montreal. And one team should be in Atlantic Canada, whether it be Nova Scotia or Newfoundland.

==========================

Who’s #1 in college basketball these days? I don’t care. I’m not watching until it matters.

==========================

The Bucks fired coach Jason Kidd Monday. I noticed because the Bucks are my favorite team, but I’m not going to sit here and mope. Life goes on, and I could not care less about the NBA.

==========================

Danica Patrick dating Aaron Rodgers? Great catch for her. Terrible downgrade for him. Should have held on to Olivia Munn while you had her, Aaron.

That’s it. Have a good night. And a better tomorrow.

Tom Brady, G.O.A.T.–if all-time is limited to the 21st Century (and even then maybe not)

For those who have been living under a rock the last 40 hours, Tom Brady won another Super Bowl Sunday. 

He engineered the largest comeback in Super Bowl history, with the Patriots turning a 28-3 deficit to the Falcons into a 34-28 overtime victory in the first Super Bowl to go into overtime. 

Brady won his fifth Super Bowl as the Patriots’ starting quarterback, breaking a tie with Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana, who won four each with the Steelers and 49ers, repetitively. 

It did not take six seconds after James White scored the winning touchdown for people all over the Internet, both media and ordinary fans, to declare Thomas John Brady the greatest of all-time. Some not only said Brady was the greatest quarterback of all-time, but the greatest player to ever grace the Natoinal Football League, period. 

Brady has won more Super Bowls than any other starting quarterback. That fact is incontrovertible.

I do not worship at the altar of Tom Brady. No way. 

I refuse to call Brady the greatest of all-time. This has nothing to do with his role in Deflategate, the fact he abandoned a pregnant Bridget Moynihan so he could cavort with Gisele, the fact that Bill Belichick is a complete asshole.

The reason I refuse to call Brady the greatest of all time is because he plays in an NFL where the rules are heavily tilted towards the offense. 

American sports fans want scoring in their games. That’s why basketball is wildly popular in the United States, yet it lags far, far behind in many other countries, especially those in Europe and Africa. That’s why the version of football with the round ball–the one called soccer in the United States and Canada–has never fully caught on in the U.S. and Canada, despite the presence of Major League Soccer. 

In the first eight years of the 1970s, scoring in the NFL declined precipitously. Defenses were becoming more and more complex, with coaches rigging up zone defenses which were more than wiling to give up the underneath pass, but deny anything medium to long. Another rule which hindered the passing game was the bump and run, which allowed defenders to hit receivers anywhere on the field, just as long as it was from the front, and it did not occur while the pass was in the air. 

In 1978, the NFL rules makers decided to change the rules drastically to help the passing game. Bump and run coverage was limited to within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. Pass interference was to be called if there was any contact beyond five yards. Offensive linemen were allowed to use open hands and extended arms to pass block, a far cry from the previous rule, which forced linemen to keep the arms close to their chest and use their head and other parts of their body. The head slap, which Deacon Jones made famous when he was part of the Rams’ Fearsome Foursome in the ’60s,  was outlawed.

Dan Fouts of the Chargers immediately began to take advantage, piloting “Air Coryell” to numerous NFL records, although San Diego never made it to the Super Bowl. Joe Montana came along and mastered Bill Walsh’s West Coast offense, leading the 49ers from 2-14 in 1978 and ’79 to the Super Bowl XVI championship in ’81. Dan Marino became the first quarterback to throw for 5,000 yards in 1984. John Elway used his mobility and strong arm to lead the Broncos to three AFC championships in the 1980s. 

More and more, the rules have been geared towards the passing game, and a team is said to have “balance” when they “only” throw the ball 55 to 60 percent of the time. The running game has been replaced by dink-and-dunk passes, passes Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Fran Tarkenton and other Hall of Fame quarterbacks would never have dreamed of using. 

There is my problem with Brady. 

The Patriots have never had a strong running game during his time in New England. Brady has substituted the short pass for the run, and rang up high completion percentages that way. 

I am not sure Brady would hold up if he had to play under the rules Unitas and his contemporaries had to deal with. I would like to see him throw to receivers who are being covered tighter than a glove. 

Another reason as to why Brady keeps getting called the greatest of all time is people have a very short memory. 

Read some books. Do some research. You’ll find there are many, many quarterbacks who measure up to Brady and then some. 

For my money, Brady might not even be the best QB of the 21st century. I’d have to put Peyton Manning right up there. 

I realize many people are going to hate me for this. Too bad. 

Football-free Tuesday

Sorry for the long delay with a new post. No excuse given I spent almost all of my time at home between the trip to Norton Thursday and right now.

I got home very late from Norton last Thursday. The matches went long, I went to eat with Peggy and Clark afterward, and then I had to fight rain between Norton and Hill City. By time I got home, it was 11:35, the latest I have been awake since I acquired my CPAP machine in early August.

I need a break from football. I estimate I watched 24 hours worth between Saturday and Sunday. I did not watch any of the Eagles-Bears game last night. It wasn’t much of a game, anyway, so I missed nothing.

The Cardinals beat up on the Buccaneers 40-7 Sunday, but Bruce Arians wasn’t pleased with his offense. I doubt much pleases Arians, but it’s how he keeps his players motivated. Bill Belichick is the same way. Besides, Arizona needs every motivation to stay focused after the way it choked the game vs. New England.

Arizona travels to Buffalo Sunday. The Cardinals have played in western New York only five times since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. The first time the Cards played there, it was in 1971 at the old War Memorial Stadium. St. Louis won 28-23, but the Cards haven’t won in Buffalo since, losing at what is now New Era Stadium (formerly Rich Stadium and Ralph Wilson Stadium) in 1986, 1990 and 2004. If the Bills can’t defeat the Cards, Rex Ryan may be a dead man walking. Buffalo would be 0-3 before heading to Foxborough to play the Patriots, who would be heavily favored even without Garoppolo.

Speaking of the Patriots, they will have to go this week without Jimmy Garoppolo, barring some miracle cure. This leaves Belichick starting his third-string quaterback, Jacoby Brissett, who was starting last season for North Carolina State, the same school where Russell Wilson played the first three years of his collegiate career before finishing at Wisconsin.

New England hosts Houston Thursday. The Texans haven’t showed much offense, but their defense has been very good in defeating Chicago and Kansas City. It may be the first team to score a touchdown wins.

I’m going to watch volleyball this afternoon. I’m traveling to Phillipsburg, where I haven’t been in over 17 months. Norton is playing Phillipsburg and Stockton starting at 5. I would skip if the Bluejays were playing again this week, but since they aren’t, might as well go. My work is done, and it’s a nice day, too nice to be staying inside the whole day, even though it is brutally hot. Hopefully that cold front they’re forecasting comes in as scheduled Sunday.

Brenda LeBlanc’s birthday was last Friday. I sent her a birthday card, but haven’t heard from her. Oh well. I tried. At least I still have Peggy and Cailtyn.

 

Kansas’ turn

After watching Washington, Philadelphia and New York get buried under a mountain of snow last Saturday, it looks like it will be Kansas’ is next.

There have been dire predictions of a major snowstorm affecting the Sunflower State Monday and Tuesday, and it looks like the worst will be along the Interstate 70 corridor between Hays and Manhattan. Of course, Russell is in that corridor.  There have been some models which forecast as much as two feet. TWO FEET.

I’m fearing not only that there will be a lot of snow, but there will also be a lot of wind, which would be beyond disastrous. The last thing I want is snowdrifts piled up like you see them at times during Buffalo Bills home games. However, it isn’t looking good.

Of course, the storm would hit during a week I have an appointment with Crista. If I missed that, it would really, really, really anger me. I just have to pray I-70 is clear by Thursday at 7 a.m. The appointment is at 9, but making sure it’s clear early would give me enough time to get there and back without having to rush.

I wanted to get out of Russell Thursday to stock up on a few supplies, but I couldn’t yank myself out of bed. I did make it over to Hays and picked up a few things. I saw more than three people carrying out cases of bottled water. I’m planning on a run to the big cities today, and possibly a stop at Buffalo Wild Wings in Salina on the way home.

It wasn’t until 10:30 yesterday evening that I realized it was the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. My old middle school pal Shawn O’Neil posted something about it on Facebook.

I was in the fourth grade at St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic school on January 28, 1986. Someone came up to me during recess after lunch that the space shuttle exploded. I didn’t believe it. I thought this person was joking.

When I got back into the modular classroom behind the main school building, our teacher, Myra Annaloro, turned on the TV and we watched the coverage. President Reagan was scheduled to deliver the State of the Union that evening, but instead he gave a speech from the Oval Office about the six astronauts and Christa McAuliffe, the New Hampshire school teacher who was scheduled to teach video lessons from aboard the Challenger.

The Space Shuttle program was suspended for two and a half years. By time the next launch occurred in September 1988, I was in the seventh grade at Arabi Park Middle, less than a year from leaving for Brother Martin. When I heard the news of the Space Shuttle Columbia’s disintegration as it attempted to re-enter earth’s atmosphere in February 2003, it came as far less of a shock, given what I remembered about the Challenger.

The Challenger’s 1986 mission was barely mentioned by the networks and CNN–Fox News was more than 10 years away–until the night before the launch.

The big news of the weekend, and the week before, were the seemingly invincible Chicago Bears, who won Super Bowl XX less than 48 hours before the Challenger explosion.

The 1985 Bears won their first 12 games before losing in Miami to the Dolphins on Monday Night Football. After beating the Colts, Jets and Lions to close the regular season 15-1, Chicago shut out the Giants 21-0 and the Rams 24-0 to reach the Super Bowl for the first time.

Nobody gave the AFC champion New England Patriots any chance against the Bears. The Patriots were much improved from the team which lost 20-7 in Chicago in week two, and even though New England won road playoff games against the Jets, Raiders and Dolphins to get to the Super Bowl, the Patriots largely capitalized on opponents’ turnovers. New England recovered fumbled kickoffs for touchdowns vs. the Jets and Raiders, and the Dolphins turned it over six times.

The Patriots were largely an afterthought once the teams arrived in New Orleans. Most of the focus was on the Bears, specifically quarterback Jim McMahon, who was receiving treatment an acupuncturist to treat a strained muscle in his rear end. McMahon mooned a helicopter which was trying to spy on the Bears’ closed practice at the Saints’ facility.

McMahon was also at the center of a fabricated controversy.

The Thursday before the game, Buddy Diliberto, the sports director at WDSU, the NBC affiliate which would televise the Super Bowl throughout southeastern Louisiana, claimed McMahon had called New Orleans women “sluts”. It turned out the whole report was false, and Diliberto was suspended.

New England started the Super Bowl well enough, recovering a Walter Payton fumble on the game’s first play at the Chicago 19-yard line.

Then it all went south.

On the Patriots’ first offensive play, Tony Eason had tight end Lin Dawson wide open in the end zone. Eason’s pass was on target, but Dawson’s left knee gave way when his shoes got stuck in the Superdome’s notoriously hard artificial turf. Dawson had torn both his anterior cruciate and posterior cruciate ligaments.

On the third play, the Patriots’ star receiver, Stanley Morgan, was open on a post pattern, but Eason’s pass was batted away at the last second by Mike Singletary. New England settled for a Tony Franklin field goal.

That was the high point of Super Bowl XX for the Patriots.

By the end of the first quarter, the Bears were up 13-3. At halftime, the Patriots not only trailed 23-3, they had netted minus-19 yards of offense.

I said MINUS-19 yards. Holy crap.

Eason, who was drafted 15th overall by the Patriots in 1983 (instead of Dan Marino) was pulled in the second half for veteran Steve Grogan. The Kansas State alum fared no better, even though he led New England’s lone  touchdown drive in the fourth quarter against Chicago’s reserves, which included a rookie linebacker from California named Ron Rivera.  Yes, that is the same Ron Rivera who will be coaching the Panthers in Super Bowl 50.

New England finished with a Super Bowl record low 7 net yards rushing. Their 123 total yards were six more than the record low the Vikings recorded in Super Bowl IX vs. the Steelers at Tulane Stadium 11 years prior.

Final score: Bears 46, Patriots 10.

The 1985 Bears may be the best one-season team in NFL history. They do not deserve any more credit than that, simply because the second Super Bowl championship didn’t come in 1986, 1987 or 1988, and it still hasn’t come as the 2016 season is now a little more than seven months away.

McMahon was relatively healthy in 1985, the biggest reason why the Bears were able to win and win big. From 1975 through 1984, Walter Payton had performed heroically while playing behind one of the worst collection of quarterbacks any team could ever hope to assemble in a 10-year period. Other than McMahon, some of the quarterbacks who handed the ball to Payton included Bobby Douglass, Gary Huff, Bob Avellini, Vince Evans, Greg Landry, Steve Fuller and Mike Tomczak. Not exactly a Pro Bowl lineup. Landry was the best of the bunch, but that was in the early 1970s when he was with Detroit. By time he got to Chicago, he was decrepit, having taken savage beatings with the terrible Colts teams of the early 1980s and in the USFL.

McMahon got hurt often in 1986, and even though the Bears went 14-2, they were a one-dimensional offense which had to rely on the defense to keep the score down. The defense couldn’t hold up its end of the bargain in the playoffs, and the Redskins won in Chicago 27-13. Washington won again in Chicago in 1987, and in 1988, the Bears were routed at home in the NFC championship game by the 49ers, even though it was 17 degrees with a wind chill of minus-17 at kickoff.

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of Super Bowl XXX, the last time the Cowboys reigned as champions. Dallas was heavily favored against Pittsburgh, and it appeared the Cowboys would make it easy, leading 20-7 early in the second half. However, the Steelers rallied to within 20-17 and had the ball in the fourth quarter with the chance to tie or take the lead, but Neil O’Donnell threw the interception which clinched the game for the Cowboys. Larry Brown returned the pick to the Steelers’ 3, and Emmitt Smith cashed it in from there. Dallas won 27-17, but unlike its routs of Buffalo earlier in the decade, it had to earn this championship.

The only Super Bowl played on January 29 sucked. 49ers 49, Chargers 26. I’ll leave it at that.

Into the cold I go

I wish I could go back to sleep right now, but I can’t. My work is done for Russell, but I have to get going in order to make my appointment this afternoon with Dr. Custer in Hays.

Today and tomorrow would be two perfect days to stay inside and stay warm, but that’s not happening. In another stroke of serendipity, I have an appointment in Hays today, then have one tomorrow morning with Crista. Two weeks ago, I had to see Dr. Patriarca, who is in the same building as Crista. This time, the city is the same, but the destination is different.

I’ve had it up to here with everyone writing off the Arizona Cardinals. I know they were terrible in the regular season finale vs. Seattle and was way too inconsistent vs. Green Bay last week, but it’s a new week. Carolina isn’t getting bonus points for dominating the first half vs. Seattle.

Most of the experts were tagging Arizona as the NFC favorite prior to the divisional playoffs, but now they see the Panthers score 31 in the first half against the Seahawks, and combined with Aaron Rodgers’ Hail Mary, they’ve defected to Scam Newton’s bandwagon.

The same experts are giving Denver only a slightly better chance than Arizona, even though the Broncos host the Patriots. A lot of the bookies in Las Vegas like the Broncos plus the points, but will Peyton Manning hold up?

I swear if it’s New England vs. Carolina, I am tempted not to watch, but if I have to pick a side, it will have to be the Patriots. I cannot stand Scam Newton and the arrogant Panthers. Remember, Carolina is the same franchise which once employed the twisted Rae Carruth, someone so sick as to order a hit on his girlfriend, who was eight months pregnant at the time.

Just mentioning Carruth sickens me. How this asshole didn’t get the death penalty is a travesty of justice. Anyone who would do what he did is not human.

Almost time to go out in the cold. Not my favorite thing to do, but every life requires sacrifices.