Monday, November 30, 2015

Kobe Bryant retiring. See ya

The very name has always been interesting. Kobe Bean Bryant. By definition, Kobe is a variety of beef, typically associated with Japan. In other words, an overpriced piece of meat. Beans come in a lot of various forms. Green, yellow, fava, navy, pinto, lima, and many others. Some grow on poles, while others are of the bush variety. My earliest recollection of the name Bryant was my dad having a crush on someone named Anita, which my mom used to chuckle over. At least I hope I got the Bryant thing right. Perish the thought he secretly wanted to have a fling with Bear. That would have raised a few eyebrows back in the day, not to mention making my life in grade school rather awkward.

Nonetheless, Kobe Bean has evidently decided to retire after this season is over. Of course, many have jumped on the farewell accolades bandwagon. Maybe Obama will give him a Presidential Medal of Freedom somewhere along the way soon. Good grief, the Prez is handing them out like Halloween candy to everybody else in his last year. Why not Kobe?

Kobe did this. Kobe did that. Kobe did a lot of things over all his years in the NBA.

He certainly scored a lot of points -- over 32,000.
A 17 time All-Star.
Five championship rings.
Two Olympic gold medals along the way.

But upon further review.....

Sure he scored a lot of points, because he took a bazillion shots. Forget Black Mamba. Kobe was a black hole on the court. Once he had the ball, it wasn't going anywhere else. Despite double/triple teams, he would twist, turn, and find a way to put up incredibly awkward shots. Some of them actually went in. It was ANYTHING but pass the ball to an open teammate. In the old days this was commonly referred to as a ball hog.

17 All-Star appearances. That had to do with three things.

1) He always scored a lot of points. See above.
2) Kobe was never shy when it came to selling himself to the sports media. And like Tiger Woods, the media couldn't get enough of him. One fed off the other, the ever-gullible fans bought into it and -- presto -- Bryant got a lot of All-Star votes every year.
3) He played for the Lakers, until recently the highest of high profile teams.

Five championship rings. Though much emphasis is always placed on this when evaluating a player's "greatness", it's a very misleading statistic in team sports. Even some all-time greats couldn't get it done by themselves. See Lebron in his early Cleveland years. He had to go to Miami and hook up with D-Wade and Bosh to win a championship. Dan Marino never won a Super Bowl with the Dolphins. Take away Scottie Pippen and a few other cogs that did the heavy lifting, and Michael Jordan wouldn't have won all those titles while with the Bulls. Only in individual sports like golf and tennis can a man, or woman, be fairly judged on their stand-alone accomplishments.

Though their super-egos often clashed, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal needed each other for the Lakers to win a few championships. Let's just say the dear Mr. Bryant got some considerable help from the big gorilla that dominated the "paint".

Years later, when Shaq was off filming body powder commercials, Bryant would win a couple more titles with the Lakers. But this only came about because they had paid big bucks to obtain the services of other big men --see Pao Gasol and Lamar Odom -- that would do the dirty work inside while Kobe merrily continued to shoot and shoot some more.

The two Olympic gold medals are almost laughable. One need only consider the Dream Teams he played on. You, or I, your average wino on the street, or even one of my toy yorkies could have taken Kobe's spot on those USA Olympic teams, and they would have won gold medals too. Such was the awesome array of talent America had to choose from. Bottom line? Kobe needed those teams a whole lot more than they needed him. They would have won regardless.

And let's see.

Kobe could never play a lick of defense.

Though he denied the rape charges, he freely admitted to being an adulterer on his wife Vanessa. On that note, a few blood stains (later determined to be non-menstrual) were found on his accuser. So do the math. If it was non-violent and consensual, then why was she bleeding?

To the surprise of nobody, his accuser refused to testify against Kobe at a criminal trial, hence the charges were dropped. But ah, enter the civil suit that was sure to follow. It did, and the settlement was forever sealed to the public. Yet it's probably a real good bet the young lady got some serious dough on the condition she forever remain silent on whatever happened in that spa in Colorado. That's pretty much how it's worked in recent times. Guys with enough money can buy their way out of serious jams that the average person would get thrown in prison for. And their beat goes on.

What yours truly found absolutely jaw-dropping was one of Kobe Bean Bryant's statements upon announcing his retirement. This man had the utter gall to suggest basketball fans the world over should "savor every moment" while he's going from one arena to the next playing out his final year in the NBA. Hey, the dude made $24 million last year and another $24M this year. When he could even stay healthy enough to play -- which has been rare -- he's stinking it up on the court along with the rest of his teammates. The Lakers have gone from showtime to blowtime. They're bottom feeders. Who in their right mind would pay a guy $48 million for a very predictable two years of incompetence?

But Kobe is supposedly retiring. Here's hoping he doesn't pull a Favre or two in the next couple years and renege on it. It's not only time, but long overdue. For whatever he once was, he ain't no more. Not even close.

How to sum all this up in two words?

Good riddance.

Then again, maybe he can team up with Shaq again in the basketball afterlife and do some moronic TV commercials endorsing a product here or there. Anything for a buck. People like this know no shame. And that is profoundly sad. What's even sadder are the legions of idiots that will run right out and buy such products. That only encourages the ad people to feature them in even MORE stupid commercials, lining the pockets of people that don't NEED any more money. And the lemmings will follow along again with their wallets.

A sorry state of affairs indeed. But this is America, dammit. Where starting major league pitchers with a losing record get paid a million bucks a pop to actually play every 5th or 6th game. Where millionaire "closers" can only pitch in the ninth inning with their team already ahead and will be gassed after 20 pitches or so -- though they likely threw 40-50 in the bullpen warming up. Where the MINIMUM salary in the NBA is five times greater than the MAXIMUM salary in the WNBA. Where people in Detroit still think their Lions are going to win the Super Bowl every year. That goes beyond sad. It's downright pitiful. And don't get me started on the politicians that put their party above getting anything useful done for the citizens.

But this started off about Kobe Bryant. May he enjoy his farewell tour -- deserved or not.

All in all, he did pretty good for a piece of meat and a bean.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Meet the Final Four Selection Committee

If one is a big fan of "diversity" when it comes to appointing people to various stations in life -- and is willing to accept the incompetency that usually comes with it -- then one would be quite enamored with the panel of "experts" that will decide which four college football teams get to play for the national championship. Let's meet them.

The Chairman is one Jeff Long. Why this panel needs a chairman is a good question, much like why the Supreme Court needs a Chief Justice. If they all have equal votes, then what's the point? But I suppose somebody has to rap a gavel and call the meeting to order. Tough job. At any rate, Long is the AD at Arkansas. He might know a little bit about football.

Barry Alvarez. BA was a long-time coach at Wisconsin and moved up to AD himself. He definitely knows football.

Lieutenant General Michael Gould. He was an Air Force flyboy and made his way up through the ranks to oversee the Air Force Academy. And just what, pray tell, do generals know about college football? Likely very little. Does Mikey wear his old uniform with all the fruit salad on the front when he sits in on such meetings? Do the others have to stand at attention and salute him when he enters the room? Unknown. But this doesn't seem right.

Pat Haden. Currently the AD at USC. The good Mr. Haden has made the news several times in recent years. Unfortunately, it was always for his bumbling at Southern Cal. Coaches, players, scandals, you name it, and if there was a way to screw it up -- Pat would find it. But now he's deemed an expert. Right.

Tom Jemstedt. Ever heard of him? Me neither. Turns out, Tommie spent almost 40 years as a bureaucrat with the NCAA -- in basketball. How'd they come up with this guy?

Oliver Luck. In the past, he was a suit for the NFL, oversaw NFL Europe -- which folded -- and then landed at West Virginia. Leave it to the by-Godders to put a guy in charge of their athletic programs fresh off his last venture going belly up. Further, leave it to the NCAA to decide he morphed into another expert overnight and put him on the almighty Committee.

Archie Manning. You remember Arch. He was supposedly a legend at Mississippi. Problem is, he never won squat in college or the NFL that followed. Evidently, Ole Miss has some pretty low standards for legend status. Then again, Archie has two famous kids. You know, the QBs that have made arguably the stupidest commercials in the history of TV endorsements. Lots of them, especially the eldest. The man has no shame. But count Arch another expert these days.

Tom Osborne. This guy has the right stuff, on one condition. As the long-time head coach at Nebraska, including winning national titles, then moving up to AD himself, Ozzie definitely knows college football. Or used to. The condition? Hopefully he wasn't brain damaged from the three terms he spent in the US Congress. Hang out with incompetent people for six years and sometimes the stupidity has a way of rubbing off. Plus he's 76. He has STILL got the right stuff or been reduced to a blithering idiot? Another unknown.

Dan Radakovich. Another ever heard of him. And another me neither. Turns out Danny is the AD at Clemson. It DID come as somewhat of a surprise when Clemson popped out #1 in the first Committee rankings. Nobody saw that coming. Hmmm. Maybe he should be Chairman.

Condoleezza Rice. We all remember dear Condi. With W, Darth, Rummy, and another anal general appropriately named Colon, they merrily led our country into an unwinable war over weapons of mass destruction that didn't exist. Countless thousands died, billions of dollars were spent and, years later, the situation is ten times worse than it was before Ms. Rice was supposedly the smartest person in any room she entered. What does she know about college football? Likely absolutely nothing. But the political gig didn't work out, so she had to be appointed to SOMETHING  -- right?

Mike Tranghese. Who? Oh wait. He was the Commissioner of the Big East. Question. Do they even play football in the Big East? If so, does anybody care?

Steve Wieberg. Stevie was a reporter. Reporters know everything. These people are veritable geniuses. Don't believe that? Ask one. They'll tell you. Nuff said.

Tyrone Willingham. Ah yes. Who can forget the ever lovable Ty? He was a head coach at Stanford, Notre Dame, and Washington. And his teams crashed and burned every place he went. Fired, fired, and fired again. But like Condi, he needed a position, dammit. So even though he was a career loser, why not put him on the panel that will decide which four teams get a chance at being the ultimate winner? This is typical logic is the world of the NCAA.

And there you have them. A couple qualified. A couple more maybes. A few somewhat suspect, and the rest fall into the category of  -- you've got to be kidding.

Final thought. Add them up and you'll discover the motley crew above consists of exactly thirteen people. Many consider 13 to be an unlucky number. But in the whole scheme of things, it just kind of fits in with all the rest of the collective "wisdom" used in assembling this heretofore mysterious bunch to make decisions affecting colleges and their fans across the nation.

Or, put another way, it's just another example of how resilient America actually is. We will survive this, like we have all the other boneheads that have been put in positions of power over the years.

Yet you'd think there should be a better way of going about this stuff......

Saturday, November 28, 2015

College football Final Four

After three months of ups, downs, upsets, and talking heads from hell spewing gibberish, the college football championship has finally cleared up. Somewhat. As we all know, only four teams will qualify. That's up to Condi and her fellow geniuses on the mysterious Selection Committee to decide.

Four spots. One has been taken. The Oklahoma Sooners are in. How they managed to lose to lowly Texas earlier in the year is a good question, but they just blasted Okla St. on the road to claim the Big 12 title.

The Big 10 sorted out the men from the boys. Ohio State went into Michigan and clobbered the Wolverines. But it really didn't matter. That's because Michigan State had already defeated both of them in their own houses earlier. And the Spartans put an exclamation point on the Big 10 East a few hours later by demolishing Penn St. to the tune of a six touchdown difference.

Next up for MSU is Iowa in the Big 10 conference championship game. This will be played next Saturday at a neutral site -- Indianapolis. The Hawkeyes had already taken care of biz in the Big 10 West by going into Nebraska and knocking off the Cornhuskers. This was something Mich St. couldn't do -- their only loss. At that, Iowa is a perfect 12-0.

Whoever wins that game -- and methinks MSU remains the class of the Big 10 field -- is in the national championship semis.

That's two.

In the initial Selection Committee rankings, somewhat surprisingly Clemson popped out #1. They remain undefeated, having gone into South Carolina and dusting off the Gamecocks. There's no way #1 falls out of the top four unless they get beat. Clemson's only remaining hurdle is North Carolina in the ACC championship game. Could this be the proverbial upset special? Maybe. The Tar Heels aren't too shabby, and for a #1 team, the Tigers haven't exactly been blowing their opponents away. Plus it will be played in Charlotte. A neutral site, but likelier more fan friendly to the Heels.

If Clemson prevails, they're most certainly in. That would be three. But if they get upset, the Committee's would have a whole lot of reciphering to do -- in a hurry. And while the Tigers would drop off the Final Four radar -- who would take their spot?

Baylor got beat again. Okla St. got trashed. #6 Notre Dame losing at #9 Stanford on a last second field goal did nothing to help either team's chances of moving up. They're both out. TCU bombed out a while back. So who would be left? Florida? They just got rolled by Florida St. Could the Buckeyes still sneak in after demolishing Michigan? But that would give the Big 10 two teams in the Final Four. It's unlikely the Committee would roll that way. I'd wager the Committee is hoping Clemson indeed knocks off North Carolina. It would save them a major headache.

As for the last, you already know who it's going to be. Yeah, Bama suffered a loss earlier in the season to Ole Miss, but they're recovered nicely. All they have to do is knock off Florida in the SEC championship game. Hey, if the Seminoles could beat the Gators, then good luck to the Gainesville bunch when they take on the Tide.

So there you have it. The Final Four.

It shall be Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma, and whoever wins the Mich St./Iowa game.

Who needs an almighty committee to ordain the obvious?

Unless, of course, an upset or two happens next week. In that case, the super brain trust will have to come up with something else.

A look at the actual members of the Selection Committee next time. You think the government is screwed up? Wait until you get a load of this motley crew.......

Friday, November 27, 2015

Eagles and Packers. What happened?

Few thought the Philadelphia Eagles were anywhere near Super Bowl caliber this year, but at least they were expected to be somewhat respectable. New coach Chip Kelly had been an innovator and a winner in his previous jobs. His preseason purge of proven star players raised a few eyebrows, but he had been given the benefit of the doubt -- plus a hefty multi-year contract. Surely the mad genius in the city of brotherly love had a plan that we doofus NFL fans failed to comprehend.

And everything was semi-OK for a while. The Eagles were holding their own, hovering around the .500 mark. It would take time for his systems to be fully grasped and properly executed by the team.

And then the wheels fell off. At home, Philly got torched by 4 touchdowns courtesy of the Tampa Bay Bucs. 45-17 in their own house. How embarrassing. Just yesterday on Thanksgiving, they gave up another 45 to the Lions in another lopsided loss to the Motown puddy-tats. 45-14 on national TV. Yow. Ninety points allowed in the last two games to sub-par teams. Ouch. Next up, they travel to New England to face the Pats. Good luck with that. Kelly can smirk all he wants, but eventually Philly ownership is going to wonder just what kind of fine mess they got themselves into by hiring this guy and giving him control over player personnel. Things are not going well -- to say the least.

The Green Bay Packers seem to be an enigma as well. Remember, they started off the season 6-0. Cheeserland was content. Lambeau leaps abounded. All was as expected in Green Bay.

And then they took a tumble as well. They got beat 29-10 in Denver, which was also undefeated at the time. No shame there. The following week, the Packers would lose 37-29 at Carolina. The Panthers were also undefeated -- still are. No shame there either.

Next up they had the woeful Detroit Lions coming to Lambeau. Time to get back on the right track again. But something most unexpected happened. The Lions went into Green Bay and eked out a win against the Packers. Nobody saw that coming. Certainly not the bookies. The Packers were an overwhelming favorite. But they lost to the Lions -- THE LIONS -- at home for the first time since Daddy Bush was occupying the oval office. This was not supposed to happen.

The Packers would recover nicely the next week, beating a very good Minnesota Vikings team on the road. But then they came back home and lost to the Bears. THE BEARS!!

[The cheeseheads have to be wondering what's going on with their heroes? Sure, they lost wide-receiver supreme Jordy Nelson early on, but every team has injuries. The Patriots have been decimated both at wide receiver and their O-line, but they keep finding a way to win. And this is Green Bay, dammit. It's not like they have any other teams to root for.]

The make it or break it crossroad for the Packers will likely come next Thursday night when they visit the Lions. Two Thursday games in a row for both teams. Seems fair enough. The Motowners have won their last couple games, though at home against a below average team and one that is in freefall (Raiders and Eagles).

The Lions pretty much already eliminated themselves from the postseason after a horrific start. They're playing for, ahem, cough, cough, Detroit pride, and maybe a few jobs are on the line. But aren't they always in the NFL?

But if the Packers at least temporarily right their ship with a win in Detroit, their playoff scenario would become a little rosier. Lose, and they'd be back in a dogfight with the other riffraff of the NFC. The only two good teams appear to be Arizona and Carolina. The Cards are 8-2 and visit the woeful San Fran 49ers  this Sunday. Make that 9-2. The Panthers are 11-0. Nuff said.

Either way, the NFC road to the Super Bowl -- and what else matters? -- is going to go through Phoenix or Charlotte for the Packers. If they get that far.

The difference between the Eagles and Packers, other than the obvious this year? The fans in one city won't hesitate to express their disapproval of bad play by their team. They can raise hell with the best, or worst of them. The other ever booing their heroes? Not a chance. They could lose every one of their remaining games -- including being swept by the lowly Lions -- horrors -- and wind up missing the playoffs entirely. But they'll always be held in high esteem by their faithful flock.

Guess who's who?

Big 10 football. And the winner is....

As this is written, nobody knows yet. In the "west" Iowa has taken care of business. They went into Lincoln and downed Nebraska fair and square. This was something Michigan State couldn't do just a couple weeks ago. Of course the Hawkeyes benefited greatly from Husker QB Tommie Armstrong and his uncanny ability to throw ill-advised passes, hence interceptions. Picks galore.

One would think somewhere along the line a Nebraska coach would have taken dear Tommie aside and told him a couple things.
1) Our receivers are wearing the red uniforms. The opponent is in white. The objective is to hit the red guys between the numbers with passes -- not the other way around. And,
2) The next time you think about throwing up a lob into the wind off your back foot into double or triple coverage -- don't. A lot of things can happen, and they're all bad. Get out of bounds. Take the sack. Eat it. Whatever. But no more of that stuff --- OK?  Those guys in white are already pretty good. We don't need you helping their cause.

In the "east" things are a little bit more dicey -- or maybe not. If Michigan State can take care of its own business at home against Penn State, they will meet Iowa in the Big 10 conference championship game. The Spartans are heavy favorites and will likely cruise to victory. But what if they don't?

Bigger upsets have certainly happened. No way was that rag-tag bunch of USA college kids going to beat the mighty Soviet Red Army team in Olympic hockey back in 1980. But they did. What were the odds Buster Douglas would KO iron Mike Tyson? Very long. But it happened. Remember when Mohammed Ali, at the peak of his career was defeated by Leon Spinks? LEON SPINKS??

While most consider Mich St. a "lock" over Penn St., nothing's for sure until the game clock reads zero and the Spartans have more points than the Nittany Lions. Ya never know about such things. Excuse the tired cliche, but that's why they play the games.

In an earlier Saturday contest, Michigan squares off at home against Ohio State. That should be a rock-em, sock-em affair. Two really good teams getting after each other. And between the head coaches, Jim Harbaugh and Urban Meyer have a long history of being winners wherever they coached in the past. As head coaches go, both these guys are still a relatively young age. The UM/OSU rivalry between them could go on for another decade -- or more. Perhaps even outdoing the infamous Schembechler/Hayes hate-a-thon era before they call it quits.

Nevertheless, obviously one team has to win and the other has to lose that game. Thing is, Mich. St. will know the result before they take the field against Penn St. But from the Spartans point of view, that game is irrelevant.

If they beat Penn St., they'll move on to face Iowa. But if they should so happen to get upset -- the UM/OSU winner will take their place in the conference championship game.

How ironic would that be? MSU beat both UM and OSU on the road and would have to sit by and watch one of them face the Hawkeyes while they waited to see what sort of "doesn't matter" bowl game they wound up in.

And the stakes are quite high. Between Iowa, Mich St., Mich, and OSU, somebody's going to emerge as Big 10 champions. Whoever that is will certainly get a spot in the Final Four national championship showdown. There can be only one from the Big 10. The SEC will get a spot, probably Bama, and the winner of the Big 12 will grab another. Okla, Okla St., and Baylor are in contention. Clemson's already #1, and if they stay clean in the ACC (who's going to beat them?), that pretty much fills up the bracket.

Sure, Notre Dame is mentioned occasionally, but their independent status might have finally come back to haunt them. Even if they wallop Stanford out west, not likely, they don't have the luxury of playing for a conference championship to further show off their talents -- because they don't belong to one. While the other big boys are slugging it out on national TV with the "Selection Committee" closely paying attention, the Irish will be sitting home getting no exposure whatsoever. Notre Dame would have to absolutely demolish the Cardinal and hope a whole lot of things fell just right with other games to sneak in. Chances? Slim to nada.

The best part of all this? My merely one year old 50 inch TV decided to quit a while back. It was under warranty. But getting the powers that be to actually honor the "protection plan" I paid for was quite another matter. Imagine Stephen King and Wes Craven teaming up to write a movie script. Throw in the bureaucracy, red tape, hoops to jump through, and incompetency typical of a governmental agency. Add a few hours in the twilight zone of an 800 number telling the same story over and over again. Let's not forget the attempted repair trips that came after waiting a few days apiece for parts that didn't work.

But finally, mercifully, and after a few trips back to the store raising hell where I bought it from in the first place -- the new TV I had been entitled to all along of equal or greater value finally arrived earlier today. I moved on up to a 55. Works great -- for now. Knock on wood.

Bottom line?

Bring on the games.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Dallas Cowboys and Carolina Panthers

This would appear to be an example of two NFL franchises heading in opposite directions. The Cowboys' elevator is in free-fall towards the sub-basement while the Panthers are quickly rising to the penthouse.

Consider the Jones boys in Big D. Especially starting QB Tony Romo. Da Boys went 2-0 to open the season, but then Romo suffered a broken clavicle/collar bone. He would be out for a couple months. Enter back-up QB Blaine Gabbert. He would go 0-3, no surprise there, before being benched in favor of Matt Casell.  MC went 0-4 and presto, the Cowboys were then 2-7, their playoff chances slim indeed. But then back came Romo. His first game was a win. 3-7. Could there still be hope?

Turned out -- not. The undefeated Carolina Panthers hit town for the turkey day game and not only blistered the Cowboys in their own opulent back yard, but Romo was re-injured, perhaps the very same collar bone. Sure looked like it. If so, Romo is likely done for the year. Regardless, make that 3-8 with an exclamation point and tell the fat lady she can commence singing her aria. It's over this year in Dallas.

On the other hand, wunkerkind/freak Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers are now 11-0. Only the New England Patriots also remain undefeated, but they have a major problem with receivers. As in, they're running out of them. The first and second stringers have been lost to injury, and a C-teamer just went down. Between their head coach and their QB, no names needed -- you know them -- the Pats have long been famous for plugging various holes over the years with no-namers and continuing to get the job done, but good grief. Arguably the best QB of all time still needs speedy receivers that can run routes, catch passes, and take the inevitable hits. More on that in a future post.

Nevertheless, that begs a question nobody would have remotely considered when this season began. Can the Carolina Panthers go through the regular season undefeated? The answer is -- actually it's quite possible. Consider their remaining schedule.

A game at New Orleans. The Saints are back to being the Aints. Home and home with the Atlanta Falcons. A decent team at 6-4, but nothing special. The NY Giants. They're 5-5. Eli's still prone to bonehead plays and head coach Tom Caughlin still has that exasperated/clueless look about him. Shouldn't be a problem. And the Panthers finish up with Tampa Bay. The Bucs remain the Bucs. No other explanation necessary.

And wouldn't that be something if it happened? Hey, despite their current gaudy 11-0 record, closer inspection reveals a couple other things about Carolina. It's not just Cam. Their defensive front is very tough to run on. The linebacker corps is led by likely the best overall backer in the league, one Luke Kuechley.

Both on offense and defense, the Panthers have made plays when they needed to all season. Look at it this way----

If a team has scored over 120 points more than they've given up, they're obviously doing a whole lot of things right. And there's no reason whatsoever to think they can't continue their stellar play, especially given their remaining schedule mentioned above.

The Panthers are already a lock for the playoffs. The only question that remains is whether they'll sew up home field advantage throughout. Granted, the Arizona Cardinals have an even more impressive plus/minus ratio when it comes to points, but they've suffered two defeats. With only five games remaining, the Cards would pretty much have to run the table and hope the Panthers stumbled badly down the stretch to wrest away home field advantage in the playoffs. That's likely not going to happen.

Carolina is gaining more confidence by the week. Barring major injuries -- especially to Cam Newton -- these guys are going to be a mighty tough out when the playoffs roll around. Particularly if they're playing at home.

On a related note -- New England plays at Denver this Sunday night. Will they stay undefeated as well? Maybe. The Pats are scrambling for receivers but the Broncos will be starting a QB nobody ever heard of before. Mercifully, it appears the Peyton Manning era has finally limped to an end. When a guy with that many years in the league starts throwing more picks than TDs, something is terribly wrong. Frankly, it's called Father Time. He always wins in the end. It will be interesting to see how that game plays out.

Even MORE mercifully, perhaps a day will come -- the sooner the better -- when we fans will no longer have to gag over Peyton's moronic TV ads. If the plug has finally been pulled on his football career, then please -- god have mercy, PRETTY PLEASE -- somebody put an end to these stupid commercials. Peyton never needed the money in the first place. He's got millions on top of more millions from playing football. The endorsements, particularly when he dragged his dopey brother along, only prove the family has no shame.

But for now -- go Panthers.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!!

If you're an NFL fan, may the teams of your choice prevail in the Thanksgiving triple-header.

Major League Baseball is in the off-season, but every team will crow about the trades and/or free agent signings they make. Everybody's always a winner. Right. We'll see how that works out next year.

The NHL and NBA have been underway for a month or so, but only their hard cores are paying attention. All-around fans don't take pucks and hoop seriously until after the Super Bowl is over. There has long been only one gorilla in the sports room.

Congrats to Kyle Busch on coming back from serious injury to win the NASCAR title. Still don't like the guy, never did, but he earned it.

There's a probably a golf and tennis tournament going on somewhere every week, but does anybody really care? Wake me up when the linksters show up at the Masters and I'll program the DVD to record the live action at the Australian Open. Maybe.

College football is reaching it's regular season climax. Lots of things can happen in the next couple weeks. Teams in and teams out of the national championship chase. And of course, 60 or 70 others will be going to a bowl game somewhere. These days a team has to be flat out terrible NOT to make it into a bowl game. That will commence in a few weeks.

Idle thought: If Santa brought as many presents to the precious little darlings as the NCAA and TV people foist off B games on the viewing public during the holiday season, maybe a whole generation of kids would grow up to be (sorry Walt) the imagineers of tomorrow, instead of the mindless droids of recent times. One can hope.

Nevertheless, here's wishing a happy Thanksgiving to all. May you be amongst family and friends while enjoying a feast. Stuffing. Taters and gravy. Bread, muffins, ham roll-ups, and green bean casserole or other veggies. A variety of salads and desserts. The works.

These are great days every year for people to get together and chow down. If you back it up a couple weeks, the turkey population likely wasn't enjoying it so much. They experienced the usual annual gobbler Holocaust.

But right or wrong, that's just sort of the way it works these days. Men will watch the football games, belch here and fart there before they nod off, while the women will be talking a language in another room the men wouldn't understand anyway. Something about gossip and what sort of trash they were suckered into marrying in the first place. They've given the best years of their lives to those heathens in the other room. Look at them. They're pigs.

All of which usually boils down to two things. The boys haven't been taking care of bedroom business lately, but the girls will surely be out amongst the throngs tomorrow -- Black Friday -- buying all sorts of goodies that are supposedly on sale -- but really not if one looks closer.

And it's just another year......

College football playoffs madness

It really is crazy and a whole lot of different things can happen in the next couple weeks to upset an apple cart here and there.

Consider the Big 10 (actually 14, but who's counting)? Michigan State controls its own destiny. After defeating the reigning national champ Buckeyes on the road --with their starting QB out no less -- the Spartans have jumped to #5 in the eyes of the almighty Selection Committee. Still on the outside looking in at the Final Four. MSU's next game is at home against Penn State. This should not be a problem. It would be a huge upset if the Nittany Lions knocked off MSU.

On the other side of the Big 10 ledger is Iowa. The Hawkeyes have quietly remained undefeated and are now among the Final Four indeed. But they have to go to Nebraska. The Cornhuskers have a long history of knocking off undefeated teams when they dare visit Lincoln. They did so to Michigan State just a couple weeks ago, else the Spartans would currently be in the Final Four as well.

But let's assume both IU and MSU win their last regular season contests in a couple days. Those two would meet in the Big 10 conference championship game in Indianapolis. Somebody'g gotta win, and somebody's gotta lose. The winner will almost certainly be a national championship semi-finalist, while the loser will go to a lesser bowl game somewhere else. In the latter case, there will be a lot of fanfare/local hype, and the marching bands will put on a great show. But the result of the game actually means very little.

Elsewhere, who wasn't a bit surprised when Clemson emerged #1 after the SC's initial bowl rankings? True, the ever lovable Dabo Swinney's boys are undefeated, but Clemson as #1? Really? And remember, those rankings came out before the above-mentioned defending champs and then still undefeated OSU went down to MSU.

No surprise with Alabama rising to #2. Though the Tide got spanked by Ole Miss earlier in the season -- if there's a way to get Bama in the Final Four, rest assured the Committee will find it. Something about ratings -- see cha-ching.

What IS a surprise is Notre Dame being demoted. True, they lost a close one at Clemson earlier in the year, no shame there, but they had risen to #4 in the only poll that matters. They were tentatively in the semis and won their following game. And when it comes to media darlings -- not to mention the horde of Irish faithful, alumni, and pretty much the Pope's football flock the world over -- we're talking legions of lemmings here -- it's astounding the Committee all but booted them from any chance of playing for the national championship. The Irish have to go to Stanford to finish their regular season, no easy task, and even if they totally demolished the Cardinal (highly unlikely) they probably STILL wouldn't get in. Thing is, Notre Dame can't showcase itself in a conference championship game -- because they don't belong to one. That independent status can work both ways.

Know what's goofier yet? Besides the fact one Condoleezza Rice (remember her?) still sits on the Supreme Football Committee -- as if she ever knew the difference between double roll-up coverage and the Sunday morning talk show circuit -- her and her fellow geniuses have deemed Oklahoma to to better than Iowa at this point in time. The Sooners are #3.

That seems quite odd, given OU needed overtime to beat woeful Tennessee, lost at lowly Texas, and at home barely squeaked by TCU 30-29 just last week. Next up, the Okies face their cross-state rival Okla St, on the road, in Stillwater. Again. somebody's gotta win and somebody's gotta lose. Though both teams already have one loss, whoever emerges victorious from that rodeo might well be in the Final Four.

So here's how yours truly sees it playing out.

Clemson's almost home free in the ACC. They'll wallop South Carolina this week and North Carolina the next. Count the Tigers in. Hurray for Dabo.

Same with Alabama. They'll cruise over Auburn and roll in the SEC conference title game. Nick Saban's crew gets another shot at a ring. Boo, hiss.

The winner of the Oklahoma Bowl is likely in if they do it convincingly. If not, and those pesky Leprachauns from South Bend absolutely trash Stanford  -- well -- there's that ratings and cha-ching thing again. Who do you think the TV people would rather feature in a world-wide broadcast? An Oklahoma team or the Irish? Is it even a close call? And tell me the TV people don't have influence with the mighty Committee, and I'll tell you I don't believe it. After moving on down for apparently no reason, it would hardly be a surprise if Notre Dame moved right back on up at the closing bell.

But you know who the best team in the country is right now and probably has been all along?

Michigan State.

Look out for these guys. They've gone through their Rodney Dangerfield treatment for the last several years while watching other high profile schools get the nod when it counted most. Yet top to bottom, they are most definitely the real deal, perhaps more so than ever this year.

Sure, they've been underwhelming in some games against vastly inferior competition, but they won. An argument could be made an elite team plays up or down to the level of their opponents, but in the end they win.

Also true enough is MSU needed a prayer to be answered in their game against Michigan. On the last play of that contest, it was granted. But it's also true that State got robbed of a win at Nebraska by a horrible non-call that was obvious (even more so with replays) that was blatantly apparent to everybody but the officials on the field. The Michigan miracle aside, had the zebras got that one right, the Spartans would now be undefeated and likely #2 in the committee rankings.

But it is what it is, and sometimes breaks even themselves out that way.

Therefore, don't be surprised if Michigan State finds it's way not only into the national semi-finals -- but wins it all.

I'm just saying, but how can a neutral observer root against Clemson with a goofball head coach named Dabo?

Love ya, Spartans, but I gotta get behind the Clemson Tigers. Hey, the whole state of South Carolina has no, as in ZERO professional teams in the big leagues. Not baseball, football, pucks, or hoops.

This might just be their only shot at glory.

And who can argue with that?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Fixing incompetent refs

Sports fans have seen it over and over again. Game officials blowing calls that sometimes change the final outcome of a game. Last year in the playoffs the Detroit Lions got jobbed in Dallas on a play where a flag was thrown -- but then mysteriously picked up. No explanation. It just was. The following week the same Cowboys likely got screwed in Green Bay on a bad call. Again, no explanation, at least one that made sense.

A couple weeks ago this year we saw Michigan State lose a game in Nebraska on a call even Stevie Wonder could have got right. But not the officials. They blew it, and stuck to it.

Earlier tonight, something similar happened to the New England Patriots. Yes, they would go on to defeat Rex Ryan's Buffalo Bills -- what else is new -- but the play in question was inexcusable. Consider the scenario. Tom Brady rolls out and completes a pass to a receiver. Neither had gone out of bounds -- not even close -- and the receiver had a wide open field in front of him. He could easily scamper into the end zone for a touchdown. But no, a whistle had been blown. The play was stopped, and nobody seemed to know exactly why.

After the usual zebra huddle, it was finally explained the whistle had been inadvertent, as in uncalled for, as in incompetent, by one of the officials. Of course the offender was never pointed out. And that represents a double standard that needs to change.

Though the same holds true in every sport, for the sake of this argument let's limit it to football. Granted, the zebras are only human, and they'll make mistakes. But when they do, they should be held accountable.

After throwing a penalty flag, they've long had no problem with stating the reason and identifying the culprit. An example:

Number 58 offense.
Ten yard penalty.

The cameras will zoom in on #58. He has to take the walk of shame.

It used to be they wouldn't identify such a perp in college games. Perhaps it was because the illustrious educators of such, ahem, "student athletes" deemed their psyches too fragile at such an early age to be individually pointed out for a wrongdoing on the gridiron. It was just holding, offense, no player number. But that has changed, as well it should have. Hey, if the 20 going on 12 crowd of typical college football players want to bring attention to themselves with touchdown dances and the like, then they should be pointed out when they screw up as well. Let the cameras zoom in both ways.

But that didn't fix the bigger problem. Incompetent officials making outrageous calls, or non-calls. Even though replays have proven them obviously wrong, and the play has been -- incredibly -- reviewed by still other faceless people, they seem to have no accountability whatsoever. It was wrong -- they know it -- or should -- but they'll stick to it anyway. Like a murderous cop shooting an unarmed "person of interest" repeatedly in the back as they flee, or have already been tased and handcuffed -- it's outrageous. But like the blue crew, the refs and their bosses always circle their wagons to defend one of their own, regardless of his obvious guilt. It's wrong. Always has been. Yet it continues, despite the wrongful loss of games -- and even lives.

So here's what should happen. As an example, let's zero in on the boneheaded call in the Patriots/Bills game. After huddling, the other officials knew good and well which of their crew had blown that inadvertent whistle. But of course they would never identify him.

Football, and other sports for that matter, needs a new kind of official. A knowledgeable man, or woman, at every game that not only monitors the game from above, but is privy to all communications between officials, and has the authority -- and responsibility -- to not only call one out when he seriously screws up, but penalize him on the spot. Much like the on-field referee, this person would have a microphone that would broadcast their findings to the fans in attendance, and the TV viewers as well.


After further review, which really wasn't necessary in the first place, because it was obvious all along -- the final ruling is.......

Stupidity on the head linesman.
He is disqualified from the game and on indefinite suspension as of now. Bring in the alternate.

Let the cameras zoom in indeed on the bozo in stripes while he takes his own walk of shame off the field.

Do that a few times and all these boneheaded calls would stop.

The message to the refs would be loud and clear.

Don't throw a flag or blow a whistle until you're absolutely sure a foul has been committed. Trying to anticipate one is like spanking your puppy because you think it MIGHT pee in your shoe again. It isn't always so, and such behavior is certainly not righteous. You should and will be punished and held up to scorn if you commit any of these acts. Get it right or shut up and don't do anything. Let them play until you see an obvious infraction.

That only leaves one question. Where could we find 20 or so such Chief Officials that are knowledgeable enough to assume such duties rotating around the league at various games? Sure, even in non-bye weeks, there's only 16 games, but having a few alternates is a good idea. If one of THEM screws it up, they would be summarily executed at the 50 yard line. No pressure.

But yours truly knows where there's at least a couple dozen people that know everything about football. Every single rule.

Just look me up at the local watering hole on Sunday. The place will be chock full of folks holding Doctorates in Official Gridiron Science. Sometimes called DOGS for short. They'd gladly volunteer to travel the country and straighten out all those idiot zebras.

Just keep them away from any Detroit Lions game. They keep thinking the puddy-tats are going to win the Super Bowl every year. Methinks somewhere along the way they must have minored in Fords Ongoing Oblivious Losing Syndrome, perhaps another appropriate acronym.

But that's what the alternates are for. Like the immortal Hannibal/Banacek once said -- I love it when a plan comes together.......

Detroit Lions. A strange animal

Remember when the Lions were 0-5, then 1-7? All was seemingly lost -- again -- and their president and general manager got fired. Certainly head coach Jim Caldwell's days were numbered -- right? Usually when an owner breaks out the broom, the head coach is the FIRST one swept out the door.

But then something most unexpected happened. The Lions went into Green Bay and defeated the Packers. Nobody saw that coming, especially the bookies. True, normally reliable Packer place kicker Mason Crosby missed a last second field goal that would have changed the outcome, but it was from 52 yards out. Not super-long, but not a gimme either. Maybe a 50-50 proposition, and that's the way it goes sometimes. The Lions had chalked up a very improbable victory. Jim Caldwell could exhale.

Just yesterday the Lions squeaked out a home win over the Oakland Raiders. The silver and black boys are hardly world beaters this year, but they're decent. It was odd, or maybe not, to see them favored by 3 points on the road against the Lions.

In the meanwhile, the Lions had appointed an interim Pres and GM, for reasons only a Ford can understand, but their version of the oval office has now been filled by a "permanent" chief executive. That would be one Rod Wood. Or that wood be one Rod Would. Whatever. Close enough. No word yet on the next "permanent" GM, but the Wood man will have to hire somebody eventually. Wood himself admits he knows nothing about football, and therefore was unqualified to be the president of any other NFL team. But he thinks he'll fit right in with the Lions and the Ford football hierarchy. Truer words were never spoken. It's comical when one thinks about it. And it's usually a good idea to have a GM-- you know, a football guy -- when that pesky draft rolls around. Or dabbling in the free agent market. Or trades. Or negotiating player contracts with shyster agents with the sword of Damacles salary cap always looming overhead. A typical NFL GM is a very busy guy trying to juggle a lot of balls.

Thing is, your typical NFL GM normally wants to hire his own head coach. The two recent wins notwithstanding, Caldwell might not be out of the woods -- there's that name again -- just yet. A new GM doesn't want to be saddled with the baggage his fired predecessor left behind. A fresh start is a fresh start and any GM worth his weight in $6 leathery hot dogs and $8 cups of nasty draft beer will also demand the authority to hire his own coaching staff -- or no deal. When the new kid in the ivory tower finally arrives, it remains to be seen what will become of Jim Caldwell and his merry band of coordinators, coaches, and assistants.

But Caldwell's lucky penny has come up heads lately. The win in Green Bay was a shocker, and the Lions put on a ho-hum effort to squeak by the Raiders. Next up are the Philadelphia Eagles on Thanksgiving day.

Head coach Chip Kelly raised a lot of eyebrows when he dumped a lot of very talented players in a roster purge before this season began. And he traded a fairly reliable QB in Nick Foles for Sam Bradford, a guy that not only can't stay healthy, but is mediocre at best when he's even available to play. Kelly was given the benefit of the doubt by many. He had won every place he had been before. Perhaps the mad genius had a plan that would shock the world. Turns out, the Eagles have gone into the tank. A week ago they got beat at home by the lowly Miami Dolphins. Just yesterday they were walloped -- again at home -- 45-17 by the Tampa Bay Bucs. You know, those guys with the crab leg stealing rookie QB named Jameis Winston. It doesn't get any lower than being drubbed by four touchdowns at home by the likes of the Bucs.

But this is the team the Lions have up next. If they can beat the sad-sack Eagles it would mean three wins in a row for Caldwell and the always unpredictable Lions. Plus, it will be a nationally televised game. Exposure galore. Like it or not, NFL junkies around the country will have no choice but to watch these two teams while the finishing touches are being put on the usual Thanksgiving feast. It's the only game available in the early time slot. The good game doesn't come on until the leftovers are being zip-locked and refrigerated and the dishwater loaded up. Still undefeated Carolina at Dallas should be quite the show. Yeah, later on it's the Cheesers and Da Bears in a yawner. But toss a couple more beers on top of the mountain of food already in their stomachs, and everybody will be sawing logs anyway. Perhaps when the hosts finally come to again, all the company and their insufferable kids will have found their way out. One can hope. And check the fridge. Chances are, some of those leftovers will have mysteriously disappeared. Nobody will know anything, of course.

In all probability, a risky concept when it comes to the Lions, they will likely beat the Eagles. At that point the Lions would be 4-7. Could they run the table and wind up 9-7 and perhaps sneak into a wild card spot? Sure. Anything's possible. I might get a Pulitzer for this post -- but I wouldn't bet on it.

The reality is the Lions bumbled their way out of any playoff chance before Halloween. And the next day the KC Chiefs put a 45-10 exclamation point on it in London. At that point, it was already over.

Right now, and for the remainder of the season, at least until a new GM gets hired -- whenever that is -- Jim Caldwell, his staff, and several players are trying to save their jobs. It's a double-edged sword for the Lions. Forget the playoffs, much less any delusional Super Bowl aspirations. That's not going to happen. And sure, they might win a few more games this year. But if they do, they'll just slide further down the draft board next spring. So even if they win -- they lose.

Then again, other than Calvin Johnson, the Lions have pretty well stunk it up in the draft for several years anyway.

Let the banker man Rod Wood look after the Fords' various accounts. Again, he's already admitted he doesn't know squat about football. But what the Lions REALLY need is an NFL savvy GM that will come in, jettison the obvious trash, and get to work building a house that will last -- one brick at a time. It will take a while, but the right guy can do it. The trick is finding that person, and he being willing to come to the Lions. Neither is a given. A really smart guy is going to look long and hard at the current plight of the Lions before jumping into a commitment that might well spell the end of his NFL career in a few years if he gets it wrong. It's not always only about the money to truly qualified people that value their reputations. Such people will never be hurting for dough, because others will want them as well.

His first order of business should be showing Jim Caldwell and his underwhelming staff out the door. JC might be a nice guy and say all the right things, but make no mistake. When it comes to leading an NFL team, this guy is a proven loser. The Lions have no, repeat NO shot at being contenders while he and his minions are in charge of field strategy.

But of course it's still the Lions and the Fords still own them. Anything can happen. If the late Willie Clay wasn't inept enough, now it's Martha and her girls.

Good luck with that. It's like an old time merry-go-round in the twilight zone. Round and round it goes, but that damned brass ring is always on the far side. It seems impossible. But hey, we're talking about the Lions here.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Kudos to Michigan State

You have to hand it to the Spartans. Going into Columbus to face the undefeated Buckeyes without the services of their star QB Connor Cook was a daunting task indeed. They were two touchdown underdogs -- but they beat OSU. No fluke. Fair and square.

The defending national champ Buckeyes just kissed another trip to the Final Four good-bye. A loss early in the season can possibly be overcome. OSU did it last year, as did Bama -- and again this year -- but losing at home late in the season is a dagger in the heart of any playoff aspirations. It's over for the Buckeyes, regardless of what they do next week at arch-rival Michigan.

Michigan State has been living on the edge all year. Sure, they won games against far inferior opponents, but the scores were closer than they should have been. In their game against Michigan, they needed a last second miracle to eke out a victory. They got it. But the following week at Nebraska, the football gods taketh away what they had given the Green in Ann Arbor. The Spartans would taste defeat on a highly questionable call in the waning seconds. Perhaps in the whole scheme of things -- that's fair. Catch a good break, than a bad one comes along.

True, there are some far-fetched scenarios that could upset the Big 10 apple cart. MSU could lose at home to Penn State next week which would give them two conference losses. Whoever then won the Mich/OSU game (only one conference loss) would then go on to the conference championship game to face Iowa. But barring a colossal let-down after such a huge win at OSU, it's a pretty safe bet the Spartans will easily dispatch the Nittany Lions.

Thing is, while UM/MSU/OSU have/are been going through their little round-robin in the Big 10 East (each with currently one conference loss), the above-mentioned Iowa has quietly rolled to a perfect record in the West. 11-0, 7-0 in the conference. They have to go to Nebraska next week. Certainly no gimme game. Ask MSU. And the Huskers seem to have long had this uncanny ability to knock off undefeated teams that dare invade Lincoln.

But at least good teams are slugging it out in the Big 10 as the season winds down -- as it should be. Likewise in the Big 12. Baylor just went into previously undefeated Okla St. and knocked off the Cowboys. The Waco Bears get TCU next week. Another tough one. Okla St. gets Okla. Brutal.

Not so much so with some other high profile teams. While the big boys are slugging it out around the nation, Alabama played a game against the Special Olympics JV team, sometimes known as Charleston Southern. Do Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide have no shame? When they made out their non-conference schedule, weren't the autistic Campfire Girls available for this Saturday? Or maybe their local preschool day care center had serious reservations when contacted regarding fielding a team of their charges to square off against Bama on the gridiron. Charleston Southern? Really? Did I mention shameful?

Elsewhere, in an apparent Catholic league intra-mural game, Notre Dame took on the always ferocious Boston College. Like the Alabama contest, of COURSE it was a blow-out. This is what schools with no sense of decency or fair play do. Rack up late season stats against pushovers they scheduled themselves in the hope of somehow making it into the playoffs. Shameful indeed.

Nonetheless, hats off to the Michigan State Spartans. Whether or not they ultimately wind up in the four team national playoff remains to be seen. But they've got a shot. They need to take care of business against a mediocre Penn State team, and then put on an impressive showing against Iowa in the Big 10 title game. If both those things happen, entirely possible, while some other big boys around the country are beating each other's brains out, the Spartans could wind up in the Big Dance.

Again, beating Ohio State on the road with a backup QB was very impressive. That will no doubt catch the attention of the Selection Committee, and the new rankings due out Tuesday might well reflect it. Remember, MSU is only one bad call away from being undefeated themselves.

The next few weeks are going to be very interesting.

And if everything works out just right and the Spartans land a spot in the national semis -- beware of these guys. Sure they have weaknesses. So does every other team. Nobody's perfect, with the possible exception of my ex. At least that was her take, and probably still is, wherever she is these days. Good luck with THAT.

Hey, Mark Dantonio's boys might not be flashy, but top to bottom, they're as good as anybody else out there right now when it comes to getting the job done on the field.

Idle thought: After MSU defeated the Buckeyes, while holding "star" running back Ezekiel Elliott to a mere 33 yards rushing in his home stadium, EE lamented the play calling of his coaches and all but said he would be declaring for the NFL draft as soon as allowed. Nice timing. Whatever Heisman hopes he may have had were just trashed by the Spartans, and if he couldn't run against a better than average, but not superb college defense, while supposedly having a monster O-line in front of him at OSU -- it's not too much of a stretch to assume his NFL draft status just took a serious turn south as well. A player calling out his coaching staff after he himself turned in a decidedly underwhelming performance is not the best of ideas. That young man needs to learn two words. Shut up. Further, if Michigan shuts him down again next week -- entirely possible, because they'll certainly be keying on him -- what would the pro scouts think of him then?

But for now, nice job Sparties. Nobody else, including the bookies, thought you could pull it off in the Horseshoe. Yet you did.


Detroit Lions. More Edsels

It really should come as no surprise. Since the Ford family has owned the Lions -- dating all the way back to 1963 -- they've show-cased a never-ending parade of incompetents, clowns, and, hotheads. From the front office, down to the myriad of loser head coaches, down to the players themselves over the decades. Throw in countless ridiculous (they picked who?) high draft choices that predictably went bust, and if there was ever a way to screw something up, rest assured the Lions would find it.

Idle fact. Not one single player from their entire 2011 and 2012 drafts remains on the Lions. Typically players in their 4th-5th years have enough experience under their belt, are starters, and just beginning to enter their prime. The core of the team. Not so with the Lions. Those two draft years were total wastes, as if they never happened. 

Now it appears Martha Ford, much like her late husband William Clay did for decades, is carrying on the family tradition of bumbling in the world of NFL ownership.

She just appointed a guy named Rod Wood to be President of the franchise. The very name itself -- Rod Wood -- suggests he's just another stiff. Wood will take the place of one Allison Maki, who was immediately appointed after the firing of long-time Prez Tom Lewand a few weeks ago. 

Questions. Why put dear Allison in the Lions' version of the oval office in the first place for a mere few weeks when the bumbling powers that be already had plans to oust her? Why not just leave the seat vacant until they found a "permanent" chief executive? It's not like there's a whole lot going on for an NFL bean counter right now. It's the middle of the season. No contracts to negotiate or free agent bidding wars involving those pesky agents. No salary cap to worry about. Everything's on cruise control for the next couple months. Leave it to the Lions. Hi Allison turned into bye Allison, before Ms. Maki could even rearrange the decor in the office to her liking. Seems cruel, or maybe just obtuse. Hey, we're talking Ford family here.

According to early reports, it appears Rod Wood has quite the distinguished history. He was a hot-shot executive at a mega-bank, then moved on up into hedge funds. Plenty of dough there. He was overseeing $400 million of other people's money. Offices galore in several states. 

So the Fords, in their infinite wisdom, lured him away and put him in charge of something called Ford Estates in 2007. No telling what they paid Wood, but it had to be a lot. When some guy's already made it into the dubious world of high finance, he'll only give that up for one of two reasons. Either an indictment is imminent, or a billionaire with way more money than common sense offers him a sweet, long-term high paying gig with no risk. 

And now the good Mr. Wood finds himself promoted to Prez of the Detroit Lions. Another typical Edsel model call by a Ford. Forget the nation-wide search. Let's take the hedge fund guy we lured away to look after our own properties -- and make him the CEO of an NFL team. This guy probably doesn't a blitz from a Blatz when it comes to football but, by God, he's in charge of the Lions now. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. And also very typically Fordish.

Question. Given their apparent collective brains over the years -- if these folks hadn't inherited old Henry's automobile empire, and/or an heiress of old Harvey's Firestone tire kingdom marrying into it -- where do you think they would all be now? Flipping burgers or super sizing you at a drive-thru window somewhere? Selling crack to make ends meet in a trailer park?

But back to the Lions. They now have a Prez. Next step? He has to hire a General Manager. Martha has said she'll leave no stone unturned -- and the Lions have looked under a lot of rocks over the decades to hire help. Nevertheless, she wants the best GM available. So who gets to make the call? Martha and her girls (Mustang Billy is presumably trying to run the car company) or the high roller they just promoted? Nobody knows for sure. It's just another Pinto in the magical world of Ford ownership. Maybe it will last -- and maybe it won't. 

That raises another issue. The Lions hired a former NFL cornerback named Martin Mayhew to be their GM several years ago. He's proven to be totally incompetent and was rightfully fired. In his place they hired one Sheldon White, himself a former cornerback of the very same Detroit Lions. Only the Fords would do such a thing. Tis true. You can't make this stuff up. 

But like the above-mentioned Allison, Mr. White's ouster was already in the works as GM on the day he was promoted. So what was the point? Giving him a title with a few more bucks for a couple weeks? Does that even look good on a resume? Yes, he was an interim GM for a minute, never allowed to make any moves -- as if any other GM would take him seriously anyway -- and basically got played for a fool. So who will the Fords and/or the stiff bring in as the new GM? A better question might be, what qualified person would even accept the job?

The Lions and their ever-faithful media assume EVERYBODY would jump at such a chance. They've been drinking the koolaid for way too long, but over half a century of owning and trying to find a silver lining in the sorriest franchise in all of professional sports is enough to cause otherwise stable minds to go off the deep end.

For a highly qualified GM candidate to take the Lions job, he would have to accept two things. Yes, I will pocket millions. The Fords are silly like that. But when my time comes to be fired -- and it will -- it's pretty much case closed. No other team will have me. Heather Prynne had her scarlet letter A for adulteress, but going to the Lions is pretty well the last stop as well. One is forever tattooed with L for loser. Do I want to take the easy dough, or wish to keep my reputation in tact in the future for a possible better offer from a contending team that has semi-competent ownership? A tough call.  

Bottom line. The good Mrs. Martha Firestone Ford and her merry brood of offspring are in charge of the Lions. The front office is yet another debacle in progress. Where the merry-go-round of current cluelessness will stop -- nobody knows. It's the Fords. Anythings possible. Except getting within sniffing range of a Super Bowl. 

But what of Allison and Sheldon? They had great jobs for a minute. What will possibly become of them? This is where true Ford wisdom will likely shine through -- again.

Remember Ms. Maki was senior/executive vice president and Chief Financial Officer. Lofty titles indeed and, at least by Ford logic, it could be reasonably assumed she knew a little bit about shuffling big piles of money around. So give her Rod Wood's old job manipulating hedge funds. Somebody's gotta do it.

As for Mr. White? Maybe he could team up with fellow former cornerback/GM Martin Mayhew. Mayhew's a lawyer. Maybe they could create a consulting firm on the intricacies of interior offensive line play. What do former defensive backs know about such things? Absolutely nothing, of course.

But package it up just right and Martha might be willing to shell out a few million a year to retain even more "expert counsel" in the Fords' never-ending "quest" to produce a championship football team.

Excuse me for a second.


OK, sorry, had to get that out of my system.

Rod Wood as Prez indeed. I can hardly wait to see who the next GM is. How about Caitlyn or a Kardashian? No? Perhaps Anderson Cooper and Rachel Maddow as co-GMs? That would be an interesting partnership. Not a good idea? Well OK then. Can we all at least agree that the Lions hiring Matt Millen again would be preposterous?

Don't put it past Martha and her girls. Anything's possible. They may be a lot of things, but they're still Fords.

Last question. Whatever happened to the Cougar? Wasn't that a Ford product? Pretty cool car as I remember it. Sort of a tricked out Mustang with different trim.

Please tell me dear Martha hasn't taken on the role of a cougar at age 90. Yet, with Willie gone, one never knows. Could it be she's occasionally on the prowl for one of those 75 year old young studs late at night?

Hey, maybe he could be the next Lions GM. She already hired a high priced Rod that came with "Wood" as her Prez. And that young pup's only the tender age of 55. Cradle robber.

It's the Lions and the Fords. Just when you think something even more incredibly stupid couldn't possibly happen -- it will.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thursday night NFL debacle

It makes one wonder. Are they incompetent, or just sadistic towards the fans? They would be the NFL schedule makers in cahoots with their TV network. How else to explain the two teams featured on Thursday night football? Tennessee Titans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars? In prime time? Really?

In an already pitiful AFC South division (no team is even at .500), we're force fed the dregs, plankton, bottom-feeders, whatever? And it wasn't like this was unforeseeable when they made out the schedule months ago. Most everybody expected the Tits and Jags to be lousy this year.

And to no great surprise, they put on a regular yawn fest of a game. QB Marcus Mariota is a rookie playing on a bad team. Blake Bortles is -- well -- Blake Bortles. And the Jags are the Jags. On the last play of the game, with his Tits needing a touchdown to win, Mariota set up for a hail-Mary pass into the end zone. He was sacked. Of course he was. A thousand one, a thousand two, a thousand five, etc, THROW THE DAMN BALL!!!. Heaving it into the end zone with 7 Jag defenders waiting on it and expecting a miracle touchdown was highly unlikely -- but at least they had a shot. But no, MM waited too long and got sacked. No shot. Dumb.

It was interesting to note a couple names of Tennessee players. A tight end named Superman that came from Youcheatin Baptist college? Nah, I must have seen and heard that wrong. It wouldn't take Superman 10 weeks to finally haul in his first reception, whether he was in the habit of stepping out on Lois or not.

But the other name I saw clearly. A guard named Looney. Hey, if he can hook up with a tackle next to him named Tunes -- they'd be a perfect fit on one side of the Detroit Lions O-line. If they can find guys named Wiley and Coyote for the other side, it would round out the picture rather nicely. Who would center this bunch? Perhaps Yosemite Sam or the Tasmanian devil. Either that or bring back Dominic Raiola. All their mental attributes were pretty much the same. They have a guy named Swanson now hiking the ball. That seems totally out of place. Isn't he supposed to be selling frozen TV dinners somewhere? But I'm getting a little off-point here. Sorry.

Still, it seems a shame faithful NFL geeks such as myself should be subjected to such a pitiful match-up as Tenn and Jax. It was enough to do a little channel surfing. Click. There's FOX. All Republicans are superheros and all Democrats are wimpy lying morons. Click. MSNBC. They say just the opposite. Click. Anderson Cooper and CNN's merry band of disaster chasers are off to the latest scene of carnage. With their various "experts", analysts, and an on-going panel the Warner Brothers cartoonists would have been proud of, nobody, and I mean nobody, can milk a story like the folks at CNN. The late Mel Blanc could have had a field day imitating these people.

And talk about insensitive. Imagine this question. "OK, you survived the mass shootings and bombings. So tell me, just exactly what was going through your mind when you were splattered by the blood and body parts of your spouse and children?"

Outrageous? Absolutely. But the TV talking heads and their roving band of video shooting body bag chasers often pose similar questions. They don't care. Anything for a story.

On a lesser plane, the NFL has adopted the same policy. Just give the idiot viewers something to placate them. It doesn't matter if we play games in London, thereby forcing fans to decide between church and a football game on Sunday morning. They'll tune in, while promising to drop double into the offering plate, sing twice as loud, and praise the Lord twice as much the following week.

Or even dumping the loser of all loser games on the public during prime time on a Thursday night. Tits and Jags. The dang fools will tune in anyway, because they don't know any better. We've had them hooked for a long time. We know it, and they know it. We could give them the Lions playing the Browns in Singapore at three in the morning local time, and the Nielsen ratings would be through the roof in Motown and on the shores of Lake Erie.

The most pitiful part of all? Yours truly indeed watched the Tits/Jags game. Count me among the fools. But it still doesn't make it right.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Crazy odds. Lottery and the NBA

You've probably heard about the state-sponsored poker gambit. Maybe even played it. You know, pick five cards and if they all match the five that are supposedly randomly drawn, you win a hundred grand.

Thing is, matching any five cards, both in numerical value and suit, has the exact same odds of happening as being dealt a royal flush in, say, spades. Those odds? A little over two and a half million to one. So you're going up against 2.5 million odds with a chance to win a hundred K with whatever five cards you pick. In other words, on average, they're paying out one buck for every 25 wagered. And even if you do happen to get incredibly lucky, the state will tax you on your winnings. Make that more like 70K. Long time Detroit Lions season ticket holders notwithstanding, who in their right mind would be dumb enough to participate in such an obvious rip-off? Any casino trying to run such a scam would rightly be exposed and busted by their overseers. Not the state. This is all (not so) perfectly legal. But it's outrageous all the same.

Question. Who will be the first to have their streak come to an end? The worse than woeful Philly 76ers at 0-12, or the high-flying Golden State Warriors at 12-0 in the NBA? Will Philly win a game before GS loses one?

Percentage-wise, the worst NBA season of all-time belongs to the Charlotte Bobcats back in 2011-12. They went 7-59 in a shortened season. Nice ownership job Mike. That ranked right up there with Barkley's golf swing.

The second worst belongs to the above-mentioned 76ers. Back in 72-73, they went 9-73. Turrible, just turrible.

The best record came courtesy of the 95-96 Chicago Bulls. This was the year the same Mike came back to hoops after his ill-advised venture in professional baseball. He had discovered "those guys are good" when it came to pitchers. MJ couldn't hit a lick and was a defensive liability to boot. At any rate, those Bulls posted a 72-10 record, which remains the gold standard to this day. Doing the math, that equaled a winning percentage of .878. Just a tad shy of winning 9 out of every 10. It was an amazing feat indeed.

Yet now we have the Golden State Warriors. Do they have a shot at the Bulls' all-time regular season mark? Sure. It's doubtful, but they have a shot. They would have to go 73-9 to eclipse the Bulls. At the beginning of the season that equated to an .890 winning percentage. In this day and age of salary caps, draft picks, and free agency -- hence parity -- it seems preposterous that any team in the NBA could approach such a mark.

But the Warriors have started off 12-0. It's almost like they're toying with their competition at times. Do the math again. In order to reach the magic mark, they need to go 61-9 over their remaining 70 games (.871). Still a formidable task. And that's assuming they stay relatively injury free and motivated -- neither a given.

So what would happen if Steph Curry and Company rattled off another 15 or 20 wins in a row? It's possible. These guys are that good.

Here's a weird scenario. The Warriors are still unbeaten when the major college football bowls kick off to ring in the new year. Could it happen? Probably not. Starting Nov. 30, they play seven games in a row on the road in thirteen days, including an east coast swing. Play, hop on a jet. Play, hop on a jet. Repeat above. And then some more. That's quite the gauntlet, especially considering every team -- with their rabid fans rooting them on --  will definitely bring their A game trying to knock off the Warriors. Especially as long as they remain undefeated. But all those games are winnable. There's really not a formidable opponent in the bunch.

If they're still clean, the Warriors go back home for a long home stand. Good luck beating these guys in their own building.

And wouldn't it be something if it played out that way? Sure, the college bowls would be in full swing, their Final Four beginning to duke it out, and the NFL gearing up for their playoffs. A regular football bonanza.

But tell me a real sports fan wouldn't be clicking over to check on a Warrior game -- especially if they remain undefeated at the time -- and I'll tell you I don't believe it.

Their odds of beating the Bulls' all-time mark? Hard to say, but probably long.

But no matter what, betting on such a thing surely beats the hell out of that poker scam. That's just ridiculous. Did I mention Lion's fans occasionally mentioning their team being a Super Bowl contender? Yeah, sorta like that. P.T. Barnum was right. There's one born every minute, and some towns are a regular breeding ground for them. And nobody knows it better, and has profited more from the idiots, than the Ford family and the state of Michigan.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Michigan football

After the sorry Brady Hoke years, and Rich Rodriguez before him, the UM football faithful finally has reason to hope. New head coach Jim Harbaugh is a very smart guy, a terrific motivator, and a football guru. Plus he's an alumnus, having played for the Wolverines in years past. As the late Bo Schembechler might have said -- a Michigan man indeed.

Of course, Bo cut his coaching teeth in Ohio, Harbaugh played professionally for the Chicago Bears before going out to California to coach San Diego, Stanford, and then the San Fran 49ers. But it's the end game that counts -- as in -- where did they wind up and what have you done for me lately? In Bo's case, not too much. He passed on to the land of three yards and a cloud of dust many years ago. And his bowl record on the national stage was terrible but, by thunder, he got an athletic building named after him on the UM campus. Hail, hail indeed when one enters the hallowed grounds of Schembechler Hall.

But though Harbaugh is an Ohio native son himself, he is widely perceived to be a "Michigan man". Funny how that works out sometimes.

It was also widely expected that Harbaugh would eventually turn the Wolverine football program around and restore it to it's once proud place. But it wasn't supposed to happen in his first year. After all, for the most part, he'd inherited the same rag-tag bunch that Hoke had accumulated. Surely it would take at least a couple years to restock and reshape the team back to respectability under a completely new system.

Yet to his credit, Harbaugh hit the ground running. The former sad-sacks were quickly molded into a force to be reckoned with. Same players, different coach, and the results were astonishing. These guys are pretty good.

A close opening game loss to Utah on the road was nothing to be ashamed of. The Utes were nationally ranked and playing them in their own house was a mighty tough opening act. But then Michigan got on a roll. They walloped Oregon St. and UNLV. Granted, the Beavers and Rebels weren't exactly considered among the college football elite, but smashing patsies is what good teams are supposed to do.

Then UM rattled off three straight shut-outs against BYU (a decent team), Maryland (maybe not so much), and Northwestern (who was also ranked at the time). A very impressive stretch. Michigan football was back. Or was it?

Up next were their in-state arch rival Michigan State Spartans. A huge test. Though the Sparties dominated statistically, the Wolverines had the game in the bag. In the waning seconds, all they needed to do was punt the ball, or even take a safety to run out the clock. But the punter fumbled the snap, picked it up and fumbled it yet again -- right into the hands of a State player that would most improbably run it over 40 yards into the end zone for the winning touchdown as time expired. It was a college football moment for the ages. A million to one shot. But it happened.

Fast forward to the present. The Maize and Blue faithful still maintain they have a shot at the Big Ten title. Technically, they're correct. Michigan State got beat at Nebraska to hand them one conference loss as well. This week the Green travels to Columbus to take on Ohio State. You remember those guys -- the reigning national champions who remain undefeated this year? Assuming the Buckeyes take care of business at home (and a 13.5 point spread says that's likely), MSU would have two conference losses and be out of the Big Ten title picture.

Assuming Michigan gets past Penn State on the road this week, hardly a given, all the Wolverines would have to do is defeat those very same Buckeyes in a huge showdown in Ann Arbor the following week that would have had Bo and Woody worked up into a frenzy. Figure in the tie-breakers with head-to-head competition and -- presto -- UM could be in the Big Ten title game -- against Iowa. Last time I looked the Hawkeyes, while flying under the radar all year, were a perfect 10-0, with a home game coming up against patsy Purdue. Those guys are already in and will present a stiff test to whoever emerges victorious out of the UM/MSU/OSU circle jerk.

Nonetheless, hats off to Jim Harbaugh. He's worked wonders at Michigan in his first year, and it will likely get even better in the future. But no, despite what happens in the next couple weeks, UM is already out of the national championship picture. However they happened, two losses is a deal breaker when it comes to the Final Four selection committee. The Maize and Blue will be off to a respectable bowl somewhere to ring in the new year, but that silly botched punt cost them any chance of competing for a national title. So it goes sometimes.

But look out for Michigan in the near future. Once Harbaugh has had a couple years of recruiting his own players, and his systems are fully up and running, the Maize and Blue could indeed be national contenders.

And considering the depths they fell to over the last several years under Hoke and Rodriguez -- wouldn't that be something?

Even Bo would be proud. If he can ever find his way out of that damn dust cloud to see it....

Monday, November 16, 2015

C'mon man rants.

Yours truly came upon an interesting saying a little while ago. To wit:

"All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of inner stillness. The mind then gives form to creative impulse or insight. Even the great scientists have reported that their breakthroughs came at a time of mental quietude".

What does this have to do with me? Absolutely nothing. I'm a hack writer that lurches from one calamity to the next in real life. I can barely spell kwiatoode let alone ever experience it. But I thought it was a pretty cool quote. I know. C'mon man. OK. Onward.

The good people that brought us buffalo wings -- wait -- stop right there. Did you ever see a bison that could fly? Anyway they've come up with something new. Chicken fries. Indeed. Question -- what, pray tell, does one have to do to a chicken to turn it into french fries? And what could be next? Unicorn sliders? Shark knuckles? Dare I mention elephant egg omelets, lest they show up on a menu somewhere soon? C'mon man.

Old (Norm) MacDonald has finally found a new gig. E-I-E-I-O. Now he's pretending to be Colonel Sanders hawking the KFC line of goodies. Hey, the dude's still talking through his nose and has the same moronic look he always did. Note to the brass at KFC. This is the best you and your ad people could come up with? It's a slap in the face to people that have enjoyed your product for decades. I won't be buying any more of your wares until you get rid of this clown.  C'mon man.

And on that note, what's the deal with Popeye's? The only thing I ever saw the pipe-smoking sailor man eat was spinach. Where did this whole chicken gig come from? And do they cook it in Olive Oyl? Are Swee Peas available as a side dish? Yikes!!. C'mon man.

Watching the Houston Texans improbably defeat the formerly unbeaten Cinci Bengals on MNF revealed something interesting. Houston has a couple guys on their defense named Mercilus and Pleasant. So which way do they want it? Take no prisoners or play patti-cake? No wonder they lose so many games. They have no identity. Plus they have a defensive coordinator named Romeo. Montague, Crennell, what's the difference? They both always lose in the end. Anybody named Romeo has no place in the fearsome world of the NFL. C'mon man. What's next? The Barber of Seville as a GM? Turn him loose on Richard Sherman and Larry Fitzgerald first, before he settles into the executive suite. Those guys are in SERIOUS need of haircuts.

Neither does a Lovie. Lovies belong married to a millionaire on Gilligan's Island. If I remember right, that actress was the late Natalie Schaefer. She didn't know squat about football either. Lovie Smith was a disaster during his Chicago Bear years and somehow wound up the head coach in Tampa Bay? What were they thinking down there? They thought THIS guy was an upgrade? Over what? A cardboard cut-out of Alfred E. Neuman designing game plans? C'mon man.

Vince Wilfork, the huge brute and former nose-tackle that anchored the New England Patriots D-line bailed in free agency to -- Houston? Really? He left a perennial Super Bowl contender to join a no-shot team for a few extra bucks on top of the millions he was already making? C'mon man.

Same with Golden Tate. Fresh off a Super Bowl win in Seattle, he departed the Emerald City for the crime-ridden wasteland of Detroit and the sad-sack Lions? C'mon man.

Ndamukong Suh pretty much made a lateral move. The stomper was never going to see a Super Bowl playing for the Lions, so why not go to Miami? True, the Dolphins are a train wreck and at the bottom of their division as well. But at least the weather's warmer. It's something.

Jared Allen's career has taken some strange twists and turns over the years. Drafted by a not-so-good KC team. Then traded to the Minnesota Vikings. But he bailed on the Vikes a couple years ago. He had no way of knowing the Vikings would shortly hire a new head coach that would establish a fearsome defense he could have been part of. Nor that they would finally ditch the woeful Christian Ponder as QB and land a hot shot named Teddy. And Adrian Peterson, running back supreme, was going through his trials and tribulations. Things didn't look good in Minnesota. Perhaps it was easy to look for greener pastures. But going to the perennial doormat Bears when most teams in the league would have coveted his services? What was he thinking? C'mon man.

But Jared lucked out. After only one season in Chicago, he now finds himself a member of the Carolina Panthers. Last time I looked, they were still undefeated. If he's into car racing, Allen's at ground zero of NASCAR. Like college hoops? The Tarheels and Dukies aren't far away -- and they're always good.

And it doesn't take much of a drive out of Charlotte to find oneself in "God's country". North Carolina is a beautiful state indeed. Plus, lots of equally beautiful golf courses. And if Jared asks the right questions of the right people, he might be able to get himself a nip or two of "shine" to help those aches and pains go away from his latest battle on the gridiron -- or to help forget about his time with Da Bears. Rumor has it that stuff is still brewed in the neighborhood.

All in all, after years of trials and tribulations of his own, I dare say the good Mr. Allen has finally landed in some mighty tall cotton indeed. Way to go.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Ode to a friend and the crazy NFL

I wish my friend Scott was still here. He would be so proud, not to mention ranting away at the local watering hole. Alas, Scott and his wife Jennifer were tragically killed in a motorcycle accident that happened right next to the old Silverdome -- former home of the Detroit Lions -- a little over a month ago.

Scott was a rabid fan indeed, but not of the Lions. For reasons I never knew nor asked about, he was a long-time Minnesota Vikings supporter. Scott would freely admit he knew little and cared less about college football, but the dude was all over it when it came to the NFL. The man was a walking Wikipedia in that regard.

Sadly, he's not around to see his beloved Vikes now leading the NFC North Division. Sleep well, my friend, and you too Jen. I'll be looking for another hug when I enter your domain, so please have one waiting -- if that's not asking too much.

But the Vikings are in first place indeed. Who would have thunk it? Granted, the Detroit Lions koolaiders were once again whispering Super Bowl after their 11-5 mirage season last year, but it's the Lions. C'mon. And Da Bears are -- well -- still Da Bears. But Green Bay was supposed to be the class of the field.

Thing is, the Packers have looked very vulnerable of late. After starting 6-0, they've lost their last three games. Getting beat on the road by a then undefeated Denver Bronco team was one thing. Going into Carolina against the undefeated Panthers the following week, only to suffer another loss was another. But they were supposed to beat the Lions, especially in the friendly confines of Lambeau Field.  An 11.5 point spread and 24 years in a row said so.

But as we now know, the Lions went into Cheeserland and somehow improbably managed to beat the Packers. With the Lions, there always seems to be an OMG moment or two in any game that wasn't supposed to happen. They'll scream to the heavens in outrage when a bad call goes against them, but take it in stride when an otherwise opposing reliable field goal kicker misses a routine attempt that hands them a win. Such was the case in Green Bay. Immediately thereafter, the Vikings were way out in Oakland, and easily dispatching the Raiders.

The Vikes are now 7-2, having won their last 5 in a row. Yeah, I know, Scott. Very impressive stuff. Adrian's running wild again and Teddy is appearing to be the real deal. Plus their defense is killer. I get that.

But though the Packers are "reeling" at 6-3, they have two games remaining against the Vikings, including next week in Minnesota. That should be a slugfest. If the Vikings prevail and open up a two game lead with only 6 to go, which would mean the Packers were 6-4, the anxiety level would likely rise a bit in Green Bay, After a 6-0 start, they'd be looking at the very real possibility of missing the playoffs entirely. Their remaining schedule is hardly a cake walk. Again, who would have thunk it even remotely possible?

Elsewhere, the New England Patriots scraped by their occasional nemesis NY Giants -- barely. It took a 54 yard field goal as time expired to eke out another win.

Carolina cruised again and remains unbeaten.

But Denver is no more. They were trounced by the KC Chiefs. This is what happens when a guy named Peyton throws another 4 picks in a game. The Omaha man that never saw an endorsement he didn't like (shameful) has thrown 14 passes to the guys in the other uniforms over the last few games. The Broncos were winning in spite of him. Kudos to the coaching staff, a ferocious defense, and all the other players for overcoming such a high-paid handicap. Who would have ever thought Peyton Manning would be the weakest link on a football team? He's getting like Tiger Woods. It might not be totally over yet -- there's always a slim chance of one more go round of glory -- but the odds are highly against it. The other guys are younger, stronger, bigger, faster, better, even smarter, and they don't care about eating "legends" for lunch. It's only going to get worse.

Nevertheless, I think about you all the time, Scott and Jen. While I can't begin to imagine the horror you experienced on the freeway that snuffed out your mortal existence, I hope you're in a better place.

The Vikings on top of their division. Imagine that, Scott.

And keep that hug ready Jen. I'll get there in due time.....

Ronda Rousey. It was time

Over the last couple years, mixed martial artist Ronda Rousey had become quite the sensation. In earlier times, Ms. Rousey was an Olympian in judo and also became the first woman to sign up to take part in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). This was one tough girl.

During her meteoric rise in the Octagon, Rousey became somewhat of a cult hero. She was knocking out everybody in record time. Well, not exactly. Ronda would charge, throw her opponent to the mat, and eventually apply a technique known as an "arm bar". Once locked in place, an opponent has two options. Tap out (give up) or suffer a dislocated elbow -- even a broken arm.

The vast majority of Rousey's fights ended in this manner, oftentimes very quickly. It was rare for an opponent to make it through the first round.

But it was only a matter of time. Eventually she would come across a world-class professional that was not only wise to Ronda's preferred tactic, but be able to avoid it while countering with her own arsenal.

Enter Holly Holm. While Rousey was basking in all the glory, including film roles, the talk show circuit, and even a talking head on an ESPN stage -- who isn't these days? -- Holm was quietly taking care of business.

Ms. Holm was a former boxer, kick-boxer, and quite formidable in the ring/octagon herself over the years. A much more rounded fighter and also undefeated since she jumped into the UFC fray.

Rousey attempted her usual intimidation techniques even at the pre-fight weigh-in trying to start a scuffle, but Holm kept her cool.

Like some other notables from the sports world, say, Mike Tyson and Ndamukong Suh, Rousey could come across as quite charming when away from the venue of battle. But once in it, they all turn(ed) into ferocious animals. Have no mercy and take no prisoners. Kill, stomp, or at least maim. It truly is a scary thought how such people can flip a mental switch back and forth between being genteel one moment, and turning into psychopathic monsters of physical mayhem and destruction the next. Who ARE these people down deep? Do they even know themselves?

Nevertheless, attitude, reputation, and bullying will only go so far in the mixed martial arts world. Especially when a participant has long been pretty much a one-trick pony. See armbar mentioned above.

Bullies aren't used to getting kicked in the head. But that's exactly what happened to Ronda Rousey courtesy of Holly Holm in the 2nd round of their UFC fight. The superior all-around fighter had sized up her opponent, waited for her chance to deliver a devastating blow, and it got there. A knockout.

It will be interesting to see what Ronda Rousey does next. Will she want a rematch? The UFC would likely love it. They were charging $60 on pay-per-view to see this particular bout. Maybe Dana White and his shysters could hype Rousey/Holm II into $80 or $100. Never underestimate the power of shills and the stupidity of the masses that will continue to fork it over.

But a few short hours ago, the once fearsome Ronda Rousey got knocked into next week by a world-class professional that would likely do it again in any such rematch. Hats off to Holly Holm. She's the real deal.

In a recent interview, Rousey stated that once her fighting career was over, she'd settle down, raise animals, and pop out a few kids. Nobody would ever hear from her again. Certainly her career isn't over after suffering her first defeat, but it had to send a message. All the glares, attitude and attempted armbars in the world aren't always going to be good enough to win a fight, especially against someone who can kick her in the head and knock her out.

And although just a guess, it wouldn't be too surprising if the bit parts in movies went away, and the talk show folks somehow find her a bit less compelling as a guest. When one is a heavy favorite and then gets knocked out, such are the consequences.

On top of the world one day, and one kick to the head takes it all away. Alas.

But it was only a matter of time.