It’s That Time Of Year …

Late January is the time of year for Super Bowl hype, college basketball news, the anticipation of pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training and … Oscar nominations. I am not a big movie guy so I won’t pretend to be into any of that kind of stuff. But before all the nominations are in and all the candidates are analyzed and lionized, may I offer one very simple suggestion…

The Best Performance by a Supporting Actress award really need not be pondered this year. That award was sewed up last summer in Denver, Colorado when Hillary Clinton stood up in front of the Democratic National Convention and gave a speech in which she said that Barack Obama was the best person to lead America forward. She didn’t laugh; she didn’t spit; she didn’t sneer. Not even one time during the whole speech. That’s why it was the Best Performance by a Supporting Actress in 2008.

As I watched the Ravens/Steelers game draw to an end on Sunday night, I flashed back to my youth and imagined Johnnie Addie striding out onto the field and reaching for a microphone hanging from a chord over his head and intoning:

“The winner – - by a technical knockout – - at 2 minutes and 37 seconds of the ninth round – - the Pittsburgh Steelers – - – Steelers.”

There are some folks who have suggested that the reason Jerry Jones did not fire Wade Phillips at the end of the season is because Jones is in a cash flow bind and it would be difficult for him to pay off Phillips and pay his successor too. These folks make the same argument with regard to Jason Garrett, the offensive coordinator in Dallas. I surely do not prepare Jerry Jones’ tax returns so I have exactly no way to know if any of that is correct; but in case it is, I have a suggestion as to how Jerry might resolve the Jason Garrett part of the problem:

    1. Keep Garrett on board as a film analyzer/game plan developer/whatever. No change in cash outflow here.

    2. On game day, have Terrell Owens call the plays in the huddle to assure that Owens gets the ball enough and that the Cowboys’ offensive resources are used to maximum efficiency. Clearly, Owens knows more about those things than anyone else does. No change in cash outflow here either.

I won’t even charge the Cowboys my consulting services rate for that analysis. No change in cash outflow here either.

Barring another “late firing” of a head coach, there have been ten head coaching openings in the NFL this year. Nine of the ten teams with open positions have filled them already; the Raiders are still looking for a head coach. In you mind, which of the following possibilities most likely explains the Raiders delay here?

    1. Al Davis recently studied the Gospel of St. Matthew and believes that “the last shall be first”.

    2. Al Davis is actually conducting the most thorough and professional search for a new coach of all the NFL teams.

    3. Al Davis has not yet figured out exactly what he is doing/wants to do in this situation.

    4. Al Davis has only found men who want to be “head-coach” and not merely “head-coach-in-name-only”.

With all of those vacancies out there and all the shuffling of coaching candidates going on, there are eight coaches with Super Bowl rings who might actually coach again out there in an unemployed status. In alphabetical order, they are Brian Billick, Bill Cowher, Tony Dungy, Joe Gibbs, Jon Gruden, Mike Holmgren, Bill Parcells and Mike Shanahan.

Yes, I know George Siefert and Dick Vermeil are out there too but I doubt that either of those men will coach again in the NFL.

Mike Martz is also out of work. As the architect of the Rams’ “Greatest Show on Turf”, he became an assistant coach labeled as a sure-fire-head-coaching candidate. In his stint with the Rams after Vermeil left, his teams were OK but never really threatened to win the Super Bowl again. However, in retrospect, his reputation was damaged more this season than by the miserable performances of the Lions under his tutelage after leaving the Rams. Recall that it was Mike Martz who declared that Kurt Warner was washed up/finished/yesterday’s news in St. Louis about 5 years ago and that Marc Bulger was the QB to return the Rams to glory. How’s that working out in St. Louis? I haven’t heard much about the Rams in connection with the playoffs much lately…

I have heard a lot of analysis regarding the resurgence of Donovan McNabb and the Eagles subsequent to McNabb’s benching at halftime of the Ravens game in November. Some have said that it refocused Donovan McNabb; others say it refocused Andy Reid. I have a different slant on that.

The Eagles are an “old team” at several key positions – two offensive tackles, safety, running back and quarterback. I don’t mean “old” in the sense that these folks can no longer play; just the opposite, these are key elements to any success the Eagles have enjoyed. Not all of them will be back with the Eagles next year due to expiring contracts. I believe that these “old” players took stock after the Ravens’ game and realized that if they were going to make the playoffs this year – probably their last year together and perhaps their last shot at the playoffs in the event they leave for some other team that does not put the pieces together very well – then they had to do two things:

    1. They had to force themselves to be more productive at their positions.

    2. They had to communicate the urgency of the moment to the other players on the team who might not have felt the same urgency because the others are younger and might not have expiring contracts.

If you couple those two things with the refocusing of Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid, you may explain how the Eagles turned their season around from a dismal 5-5-1 record and the inability to beat the Cincinnati Bengals into a playoff berth.

Finally, here is an item from Rock On, a weekly column written by Brad Rock in the Deseret Morning News:

“A hot item for the holidays this year was the 2009 ‘Women of Curling’ calendar.

“Although that may be out of stock, Rock On sources say there are still plenty of ‘Women of Ice Fishing,’ ‘Women of Lumberjacking’ and ‘Women of Greco-Roman Wrestling’ calendars available at a bookstore near you.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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Comments

  • JJC  On January 21, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    1 – Possible.
    2 – Not a chance.
    3 – More than likely.
    4 – Impossible since I sent in my resume clearly stating that I’ll be the figurehead so long as I get cash up front.

    Given that he has publicly burnt both Shanahan and now Kiffin over money, essentially slandered both of them repeatedly (it’s been a two way street there of course) and acknowledges that he is going to exercise a monarch like control over the team, I can’t imagine anyone who has head coaching skills or qualifications showing up to be interviewed. Which leaves unqualified people for it. Like me.

    Even if Al Davis promised full control over the team, who is going to beleive him?

    I could make some interesting parallels to the Raiders and Obama. The state of the (raider) nation is so backwards that anyone with actual experience is at a disadvantage so someone with no experience might do better than an insider. But, as always, even a new face hires underlings from the old guard and still has a Congress (Al Davis) that is set in the old ways that can’t be overcome without a long and bloody fight.

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On January 21, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    JJC:

    Very interesting analogy to the new President. Given the performance of the Congress at doing the people’s business over the last 35 years – - or so – - and given the performance of Al Davis as the prime mover of the Raiders NFL franchise, it’s a tough call deciding who has done the most damage.

    Interesting that you give possibility to Al DAvis being steeped in the Gospel of St. Matthew but you give no chance to the supposition that he may be carrying out the most throrough interview process of any of the NFL teams seeking a head coach.

  • Ed  On January 23, 2009 at 1:33 am

    JJC – the coaches didn’t slander Davis – truth is the ultimate defense to a slander charge…

    SC, hate to tell you you lost some material – NJIT won a basketball game. Hey, anyone can lose a game or 51….

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On January 23, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Ed:

    See the rant for 1/23/09 – written later than the early morning hour of your comment here – for the NJIT item.

    Thanx.

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