Packers Vs. Steelers In Two Weeks

The only off-the-field question related to the Super Bowl that has any pertinence is this one:

    Will there be more terrible towels or wedge-shaped cheese hats in Dallas on February 6?

Both the Steelers and the Packers “travel well”; the business community of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area cannot be unhappy with this pairing.

FOX lost the two largest TV markets that have NFL franchises yesterday but I doubt they are sad to see these two teams – - both of whom have a national fan base – - in the Super Bowl game.

Just a few comments on the conference championship games:

    The Bears’ decision to insert Caleb Hanie into the game with less than a minute left in the 3rd quarter was really dumb. Since he was the third QB, his entrance in the game prior to the 4th quarter made both Jay Cutler and Todd Collins ineligible to return. If Hanie had pulled a hamstring…

    Did you hear Tommie Harris’ name called all day? I did not.

    Did the Jets forget to set their alarm clocks? The game started at 6:30 PM EST; they did not show up until about 7:45. Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards had zero catches in the first half. Way to come up small in the big game, guys…

    You have to hand it to Rex Ryan. The Jets did not quit in the second half when it would have been easy for them to do just that. He had them fighting until the end.

We can now settle in for two weeks of blather and concocted “angles” for stories about the Super Bowl game. You will pardon me if I ignore 99% of that twaddle and hold up for ridicule the 1% that is truly stupid.

I already like Hue Jackson – - the new coach of the Oakland Raiders. At the news conference where he was introduced in that role, someone asked him about his predecessor, Tom Cable. The stock answer for a new coach in the position is to say that his job is to build on the strengths that his predecessor left but that the team needs a new direction and he will seek to find that direction based on what the former guy began. Blah … blah … What Hue Jackson said was:

“What Tom Cable is as a football coach is an exceptional line coach.”

Somewhere, Howard Cosell did a fist-pump and muttered something about telling it like it is…

By now, I am sure you have heard or read about the study that showed that 8 – 10% of the folks leaving sporting events are legally drunk. The study rests on data collected by Breathalyzer tests administered to folks leaving the stands after games. That leads me to two observations:

    If the local gendarmes set up sobriety checkpoints at the exit points of the parking lots after games, they could probably do a lot to balance the budgets of a bunch of cities and municipalities around the country.

    Based on my experiences at games, I would say that sporting venues are actually places where folks can sober up a bit. I strongly suspect that far more than 10% of the people entering the stadium after tailgating are legally intoxicated – - maybe as high as 25%.

Chad Pennington is going to try another comeback in 2011 – - if there is a 2011 NFL season. Pennington was in for a total of two plays this year and injured his shoulder. He has undergone surgery on that shoulder – - his throwing shoulder – - and plans to start rehab as soon as possible. This is his fourth surgery on that same shoulder. Let’s just say no team should build their 2011 season around him as the QB that will take every snap of the season.

Another QB presents a possible question mark for various teams. Vince Young will not be back in Tennessee; he will be a free agent. However, the potential for a lockout and the potential for a shortened season of OTAs, minicamps and training camp will make Young quite a gamble for a new team where he will need to learn a new offensive system. One of the knocks on Young has been his less than fully attentive nature to the “study” and the “learning” parts of the game.

You may recall that one of the “issues” swirling around Young during his draft year was his reported score of 6 on the Wonderlic test. I have no idea if he actually scored a 6, but if he did, that would indicate that he needs to put in lots of extra time in the “study” phases of the game because those things will not come to him quickly. And, the lack of a CBA and team activities might make time a commodity that teams do not have next year.

Finally let me close with two items from sports columnists on things that have not happened yet but are going to happen very soon:

“Hurricanes and other college football programs gear up for National Signing Day on Feb. 2. That’s when fans instantly judge how good a 17-year-old they have never seen play might or might not be in three years based on whether someone they have never met arbitrarily gave the kid a four-star rating or three.” [Greg Cote, Miami Herald]

“Hoops du jour: The persistent Carmelo Anthony trade rumors are a meager substitute for those is-he-or-isn’t-he Brett Favre stories we endured the last few years. But give it time. Eventually, they’ll become almost as annoying.” [Bob Molinaro, Hampton-Roads Virginian-Pilot]

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

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  • Frank Smith  On January 24, 2011 at 9:37 am

    Always glad to read your column. But my question is why substituting Caleb Hanie made both Cutler and Collins “ineligible to return”? Is there a rule I don’t know about?

  • Frank Smith  On January 24, 2011 at 9:51 am

    Dopey Me!!!!
    I just read the NFL “third quarterback rule”. I was amazed that I had never heard of that rule. I wonder, with the concern about quarterback injuries, if they might rethink that rule or make an exception with a roster expansion beyond the gameday 45?
    Thanks again…..

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On January 24, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Frank Smith:

    Welcome aboard. Thank you for your kind words.

    The “third QB rule” was instituted when roster limits were set at 53 and only 47 guys could dress for a game. Coaches said they really wanted to dress a 3rd QB but could not afford to do so. Hence the “third QB rule” as an emergency measure.

    The 3rd QB was there in the case of two incapacitating injuries but some feared that coaches would abuse his presence if there weren’t some kind of limitation on his use.

    If the season expands to 18 games, the rosters will have to expand. My guess is an expansion of 5 or so players and more players will dress for games too. But all that is subject to current CBA negotiations which have not begun to get to the serious stage yet.

    But why worry, there are still 5 weeks to go until the current agreement runs out…

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