Happy Birthday Jim Brown!

The Mighty Jim Brown Turns 85 Today

Here are highlights of his final game*

This is pro football the way it was meant to be played: a brutal contest of will and brawn, in a pit of black mud at near freezing temperatures. On January 2, 1966, the Cleveland Browns looked to repeat as NFL Champions when they took the field in Green Bay to take on Vince Lombardi’s Packers for the title game for the 1965 season.
*Not including the exhibition Pro Bowl that happened two weeks later.
Brown was the MVP that season, having rushed for over 1,500 yards for the second time in his nine year career. We’ve never seen his equal since.
I propose that the NFL add a new award that would be the pro equivalent to the Heisman Trophy . Where the current Most Valuable Player award goes to the player who meant the most to their individual team, it almost always goes to a quarterback. This new award would be be in addition the MVP and would be given the best player in the league. And I further propose it be named the Jim Brown Trophy.

Super Bowl Sunday

“And so it has come at last, the distinguished thing.” — Casanova, Camino Real by Tennessee Williams.

This may very well prove to be the “greatest Super Bowl of all time.” But as usual my team won’t win, because none of my favorite teams are in the game.

“And so it has come at last, the distinguished thing.” — Casanova, Camino Real by Tennessee Williams.
This may very well prove to be the “greatest Super Bowl of all time.” But as usual my team won’t win, because none of my favorite teams are in the game.
After rooting fervently against the Chiefs during their blood feud with John Madden’s 1970s Oakland Raiders and Tom Flores’ 1980’s Oakland and LA Raiders, and rooting for the Giants against Andy Reid’s Eagles all those later years, it is just impossible for me to root for the Chiefs now, even if I can admire their ridiculous excellence.
Sure I still smart from the 2001 Raiders losing to Tom Brady on his way to his first Super Bowl, due to the non-existent Tuck Rule. But if today’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the odds with their ferocious defense and living legend quarterback, I will be happy for the old guys like Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles, who are terrific people by all accounts, and for the veterans enjoying what may be their one and only chance at a championship, like Leonard Fournette and Mike Evans.
If young phenom Patrick Mahomes prevails, and the amazing adaptable offense schemes of Andy Reid earn him his giant double cheeseburger, I will marvel at “the kid” going 26-1 over his last 27 starts, with a lot of help by one of the most talented squads ever assembled.
Then again, on the other side of the ball are the Buccaneers, who beat the Raiders in their last Super Bowl, souring Rich Gannon’s MVP 2002 season, ironically thanks to the Raider’s current coach having gone to Tampa Bay after being fired by the Raiders shortly before.
So, I shall remain neutral and marvel at what is a match-up of the best teams who peaked at the right time and who each will hopefully bring their best game.
But then there’s Trumper Tom and his enviable perfection. His personal life in no way diminishes his unmatched achievements as one of the greatest athletes of any generation. He keeps his politics totally out of his public life, and he is hardly the only pro athlete who was raised by Republicans to be a Republican or who has been chummy with Donald Trump over the years, along with other wealthy businessmen in the east coast jet set social scene. Babe Ruth would likely have been at those same dinner tables.
But I get it. I understand why people loathed Brady and the Patriots with the same emotional fervor as those who would root against the Yankees if they were playing North Korea, and for the same sort of reasons.
But seriously! Moving to a new team during a pandemic, which went 7-9 last season, and starting the year 7-5, and then with less than a 10% chance of getting to the Super Bowl, running the table to make it all the way to his TENTH Super Bowl?
Win or lose, he is still Tom Terrific. But winning this one will make him immortal.
The unscripted drama of world-class athletics is hard to beat when it comes to entertainment.

Mike Curtis Remembered

My Mind Turns to Mad Dog Mike Curtis on Super Bowl Eve

The NFL Hall of Fame inductees will be announced tonight. One name that has faded out of sight is that of my childhood sports hero, Mike Curtis, the only linebacker to make All Pro at the Outside and Middle positions

Curtis died in April at the age of 77 years old. That week, Sports Illustrated ran an editorial lobbying for why he should be in the HoF.
After 11 years with the Colts, and the interception that sealed Super Bowl V, he was stolen away as the Seattle Seahawks #1 draft choice, back when expansion teams got to draft from other teams. Passed his prime, he was as much a teacher for the Seahawks and later his hometown Redskins, than a player.

Mike Curtis linebacker onemanz

One Sports Illustrated writer declared these 1970, ’71 Baltimore Colts the greatest linebacking core in NFL history. (Curtis, with Ted Hendrix, and Ray May who went on to captain the Broncos’ defense a few years later.)
Bart Starr played against Butkus twice a year, but said the only man he was ever truly afraid of was Mike Curtis, who was known as the Mad Dog.
A tall, skinny rookie named Ted Hendrix lined up next to him in 1969, and was so gangly the press nicknamed him the Mad Stroke as a joke.
Hendrix is in the Hall, as is Butkus, Willie Lanier, Bobby Bell, and Ray Nitchke. Many players of the time thought Curtis was their better. But he showed no interest in lobbying for the HoF and was pretty much forgotten, except when various Baltimore Ravens would seek him out at his favorite blue collar bar to buy him beer.
I still have his football card, now in a frame with an autographed photo I snagged off Ebay.
There’s gonna be some serious buzz saw linebacker play tomorrow to look forward too. “The human buzz saw” being his other nickname from back in the day.

Don Shula 1930 – 2020

Remembering the exceptional American, and Ohioan, who was Don Shula

I rooted against his Miami Dolphins every single game, but boy where they great!

Don Shula died today at the age of 90.

As a little boy, I saw things very much in a all or nothing way. And I was stung by Coach Shula leaving the Baltimore Colts, the first sports team I connected with – probably because of the pretty cowgirls in their entourage. But also because their kamikaze rabid dog linebacker Mike Curtis. I didn’t realize (consciously) that they were the longtime rival of my dad’s Cleveland Browns, but he never said a discouraging word against it.

Shula jumping to the AFL was another snub, even if they were merging with the NFL. And he had the bad manners to move to a team in the same division as my Colts, and take the lowly Dolphins to the playoffs in his first season. At least my Colts won the Super Bowl that year – finally!

But  worst of all, he beat my Colts 21-0 in the AFC Championship in his second season on the way to losing the Super Bowl, preventing a rematch between the defending champion Colts and the eventual champion Cowboys. But then he went on to win the next two Super Bowls, including that “Perfect Season,” where I rooted against them every game they played.

But I always had tremendous respect for his Dolphins, and admiration for their rhino fullback Larry Czonka and the rest of those glory teams.

He was a tough S.o.G., some say a veritable alligator as a coach. And I always loved this story, recounted in his obituary at NFL.com.

“After the 1969 season, Shula moved to Miami, where he was given a 10 percent stake in ownership of the team (he later sold it). His first team made the playoffs. His second made it to the Super Bowl. His third and fourth teams won championships and established themselves as South Florida legends, complete with a famous story about the time former Dolphin Manny Fernandez captured an alligator from the Everglades and put it in Shula’s shower after practice. When Shula ran into the locker room, fullback Larry Csonka informed him that players had taken a vote — with Shula prevailing by just one — to decide whether to tape the alligator’s mouth shut.”

He was drafted by the Browns in 1951 as a Defensive Halfback, but spent most of his seven seasons with the Colts, who in 1963, made him the youngest coach in NFL history, at that time.

And the rest is very much history indeed. R.I.P. Coach Shula. It was a great 90 years.

 

No Sports? No Problem – VERY Funny Stuff

Hilarious Commentary of Everyday Activities Now That Sports are Cancelled

Having all sports cancelled, a pro rugby commentator Nick Heath does play-by-play about dog walkers, grocery shoppes, street crosses. BRILLIANT!

So happy someone shared this with me. Enjoy this very clever collection of short, funny videos made by a pro sports journalist, Nick Heath.

https://www.thepoke.co.uk/2020/03/20/this-commentators-got-no-live-sport-left-so-hes-commentating-on-everyday-life-and-its-brilliant/#.XnX_o-snSYQ.facebook

Who doesn’t like brownies?

Not all brownies are as nice

Petyton Hillis Browns jersey and brownies cap

OK, I am geeking out a bit here

I’ve always wanted an NFL jersey, with embroidered numbers and name, not the flimsy sacks with screen printed numbers.

But I think the current Browns uniforms are butt ugly. And official Nike Retro ones cost $100 (compared to $350 for actual game quality jerseys) and not much like actual pre-2010 Reebok jerseys.

And even used ones of players who were complete duds aren’t very affordable and usually the cheapo variety at that.

And then I found it on Ebay at a thrift store. New with tags – $15.

Circa 2011 Reebok On Field Series, Size 48 (not Small, Medium, Large, of the cheaper versions.)

It is a respectable #40.

That is Peyton Hillis, an old-school rhinoceros of a fullback who in 2010 had one phenomenal season for an otherwise forgettable Browns team, so good that he was on the cover of the Madden NFL 2012 video game.

And then he suffered the “Madden Curse,” via bad hamstrings for the rest of his 7-year career, probably due to his coach running him “til the wheels came off” for that one big season.

Hardly a dud, Hillis was a gladiator didn’t start until Game 3, and then gave his all for 1,177 yards rushing, 61 receptions for 1,654 total yards and 13 TDs. On a team that went 5-11. He and Marshall Faulk are the only players to attain more than 130 yards rushing, 3 rushing touchdowns, and 60 yards receiving in a single game.

For $15, this jersey is almost certainly a well-made counterfeit from Asia, but it is good enough for the Brooklyn sports bars.

I am thrilled!

Here is a video showing Peyton Hillis running people over.

 

A Super Bowl for the Ages

Super Bowl LIII was a Spectacle of Defense

People may have seen this Super Bowl as boring or even forgetful, when it was actually incredible.

I can understand why viewers did not find the game entertaining. It was almost as tense and frustrating for us as it was for the players, as the defenses kept blowing out the match before the offenses could light the fireworks.

While today’s casual viewers wanted to see high-scoring offenses do their thing, in the scheme of NFL history it was the defenses that made this game memorable, even legendary.

Super-Bowl-tackle

The winning defense put on the most dominating performance since Super Bowl III, played 50 years ago.

But there are significant differences. Sunday’s teams were pretty much even when it came to professional experts picking the winner. After blowouts in the first two Super Bowls, nobody picked the NY Jets from the upstart AFL to upset the NFL’s Baltimore Colts, which earlier that season were being called the Greatest Team in NFL History.

But the Jets victory was not nearly as impressive as the Patriots’, because several of their opponents were playing with significant injuries, and they were facing a backup quarterback. The Colt’s only points came late in the game when hobbled John Unitas came off the bench in a last-ditch effort at a comeback.

Super Bowl line

An overwhelming performance

The Rams had the second highest scoring offense in the league this season, with all their stars but one in good shape yesterday. The Patriots shut them out in the first half, with but two First Downs, and held them to 3 points total.

The victory was achieved in the boring and forgettable trenches, where continual penetration from New England’s front seven allowed no time for the Rams’ complicated trickery to unfold, forcing LA to resort to traditional plays.

It’s not that the Rams “didn’t show up.” The Patriots took the Ram’s usual game plan away from them.

LA’s defense was almost as impressive as New England’s, until the end. That’s when the boring and forgettable preseason conditioning paid off yet again for the Patriots.

Their defense had just a little more gas left in the tank, and their offensive line gave their quarterback the time to make the key throws he couldn’t earlier in the game, and then they split open the Ram’s Fearsome Foursome like a melon for the winning touchdown run.

Finally, the Patriot’s pass rush actually got better on the Ram’s very last drive, despite the refs not calling the blatant Offensive Holding, which got worse and worse as the game went on.

It wasn’t pretty, but it was awesome

The only other time both defenses were so dominant and disruptive in the same Super Bowl was Super Bowl V, which is often accused of being the worst Super Bowl, the sloppiest, etc., when it was really two ferocious defenses making two good offenses look bad.

The MVP was the middle linebacker for the losing team, the Cowboy’s Chuck Howley, even though it was the victorious Colts’ middle linebacker, Mike Curtis, whose interception set up the winning field goal.

Super Bowl Curitis

While I can appreciate that Julian Edelman’s 10 receptions were one short of Jerry Rice’s Super Bowl record, it seems to me that there were more-valuable players on the two defenses of this particular game, with at least three playing for New England who had more to do with the Rams losing than Edelman had to do with the Patriots coming out on top.

Super Bowl LIII was like a heavyweight prize fight of two dominant defenses shutting down two famous offenses, each making the opposing star quarterbacks seem “off” or “not themselves.” On TV, we saw passes not getting to where receivers were. We didn’t see the cornerbacks and linebackers disrupting timing routes so the receivers weren’t getting to where they should have been.

Super Bowl pass

And so the defenses kept blowing out the match to the fireworks – until Tom Brady’s last rocket took off on course and landed in Gronkowski’s hands, in the only little window it could have, due to the triple-coverage.

Super-Bowl-dive

It was one of a handful of offensive plays from either side that succeeded, and it was the most important.

There will never be scripted drama quite like that. And anyone who thinks that can happen by the refs or the league “fixing” the Patriots’ victories should just keep their mouth shut so all the stupid doesn’t fall out.

And so, Tom Brady got his sixth championship victory, in eighteen seasons. He only needs one more to tie the GOAT.

Otto Graham Super Bowl

Otto Graham played professional football for 10 seasons and took his team to the championship game every year, winning seven of them. This was in an era before the ball was reshaped for more accurate passing, and still he set records not touched until Joe Montana was playing with rules that gave receivers much greater advantages while running routes; not to mention the coddling of receivers that goes on in Brady’s era.

For his time, Brady is indeed amazing. But with the pro-offense rules they have these days, it is the defensive performances in this most-recent Super Bowl that make it truly incredible, even legendary.

And that’s one man’s word on…

Super Bowl LIII was so incredible

 

 

 

Rodgers’ Astounding Performance

I’ve always felt Aaron Rodgers is the greatest quarterback since John Unitas.

No matter how many Super Bowls Tom Brady has won. I am now convinced.

I would not have believed it if I had not just witnessed one of THE most heroic performances in the history of professional sports – or anywhere outside of actual warfare.

Aaron Rodgers, who was carted off mid-way in the first half to what seemed likely the end of his season due to a leg injury, wasn’t able to stand on his left leg as he took the field in the second half to stare down a 20-0 deficit. I cannot ever remember seeing a player leave on a cart and come back to play again in the same game.

And then he led the Green Bay Packers to a 24-23 victory over their historic rival Chicago Bears, to increase his at-home record to 57-8, and 51-2 since going 6-6 in his first 12 starts.
But there is so much more to it, and you can’t make this stuff up, folks!
Kalil Mack just arrived on the Bear’s roster this week and showed why he deserves to be the highest-paid defensive player in league history with his own super hero performance in the first half that included harassing Rodgers non-stop and being the main reason Rodgers went down to be injured when another defender fell on him, to stopping the Packer’s first worthwhile drive, when he charged in like a flash and simply took the ball out of the hand of Rodger’s replacement, Deshone Kizer.
On the next drive, Mack nearly stripped the ball a second time on a “hurry,” before intercepting a Kizer pass that he returned for a touchdown, to put the Bears up 17-0. And most of America went to bed amazed that the Packers were being blown out at home and Aaron Rodgers was done for the season after having missed 10 weeks the previous year due to a broken collar bone.
 
Then came A-Rod’s gimpy return, which resulted in a field goal, then a bomb to the corner of the end zone right into the hands of a scrappy Geronimo Alison for a TD, to jaw-dropping needle-threading passes for another score, and then Randal Cobb’s 75-yard TD scamper after Rodgers one-legged scramble disrupted the defense and thread yet another needle to get Cobb the ball. And all of it while holding Chicago to 6 points.
 
AND THEN veteran golden-maned linebacker Clay Mathews had a bizarrely stupid Roughing the Passer call on Fourth Down to give the Bears and their young but steely QB new life. But they failed to convert on a later fourth down, and Rodgers hobbled his way to the victory.
 
The Green Bay Packers were 0-107 when trailing by 17 or more points in the 4th quarter. But no longer.
 
For all the hoopla about Rodgers hail mary pass against the Lions some years back, that only happened after the refs called a phantom Face Mask penalty that didn’t actually happen, which gave Rodgers one more play. But this win was absolutely earned. And while the Bears and their fans must feel absolutely gut wrenched, they showed they are a force unlike anything that’s been in Chicago in many years.
 
And that makes the walking wounded performance of Aaron Rodgers and his mates all the more amazing.

Cricket, a technical manual

My understanding of the Rules of Cricket

Easy as eel pie

One side is in and one side is out until the side that is out gets the side that is in out, when they come in until they are out.

Or so I thought. I have since been informed that there are some other rules to Cricket. The following should clarify a few things:

You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out. When they are all out, the side that’s out comes in and the side that’s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out.
When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in. There are two men called umpires who stay all out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out.
 
When both sides have been in and all the men have been out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game