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A Somewhat Incoherent Ramble on Why I Don’t Care Much For the Super Bowl

| January 29th, 2018


The Copper Kettle is an actual Irish bar in Woodside, Queens. When I say actual I mean it’s not one of these paint-by-number bullshit paddy joints that spring up in big cities with names like Flanagan’s and Murphy’s and The Perfect Pint. These are bars that throw a couple coats of purple and pink paint on the front facade and think their Guinness is worth $8 because of the “authentic experience”. Meanwhile the Monday night trad session features a fiddle player from Staten Island with an Italian last name.

The Kettle is run by actual Irish people. It is frequented by them too. Folks who identify themselves by county and when they banter about “the football” it ain’t American football OR soccer.

This is usually where I watch the Super Bowl. It’s my local. Two blocks from my apartment. I play golf with the owner once a week. The bartenders are my friends. There’s rarely a face in there I don’t recognize and every time I walk in I hope upon hope that won’t be the case. (If you have a local, you don’t need further explanation.)

I go to the Kettle to watch golf every Sunday. And often Saturdays, Fridays and Thursdays. The bar has comically gained the title “New York’s preeminent golf bar” because (a) I’m good at giving things nicknames and (b) there is NEVER a Sunday during golf season where the final round of a PGA tour event won’t be found on one of it’s five large TVs in the bar area.

That includes Super Bowl Sunday.

Two years ago, well after “the big game” had started, I commandeered prime television real estate to watch Rickie Fowler and Hideki Matsuyama battle in a playoff down in Scottsdale. Nobody complained. You know why? Because it’s my local, I’m bigger than everybody else in there and a half dozen Irish fellas in the joint had WAY more money on the golf than on the football. (Shane Lowry falling outside the top five cost Mickey Gobbs at least a grand. Though nobody knows with Gobbs.)

All this was a long-winded way of saying, you know, I just don’t care all that much about the Super Bowl. To me the Super Bowl is to football fans what St. Patrick’s Day is to drinker: a chance for the die hards to step aside and let the amateurs have a go.

I don’t care about your tips for hosting the perfect Super Bowl party. I don’t care about the national anthem or the halftime show or the commercials. And while this may seem odd coming a football fan, I don’t give a damn who wins or loses the game. That’s why I don’t go anywhere special or doing anything of note. Hell, I don’t even bother hopping on the subway to Josie Woods in Manhattan – where I watch every Bears  game – because who cares?

When the Bears were in the game, I spent two sleepless weeks calling random radio shows – Sporting News used to have a station in New York – and playing out the match-up in black and white composition notebooks. If I had been accused of murder in the days after the Super Bowl, those notebooks would have gotten me the chair.

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Five Things the Bears Can Learn From the Patriots

| January 25th, 2018


1. Everything
2. Everything
3. Everything
4. Everything
5. Everything

This was the easiest piece Jeff has ever assigned me!

Seriously, though. The Patriots are back in the Super Bowl for the eighth time in the Brady/Belichick era, and unless the Eagles play absolutely lights out and/or Brady gets legitimately injured and Hoyer has to play, they’re likely going to be lifting up their sixth Lombardi. Love them, hate them, every single football fan would kill to have their team be even half as successful as the Patriots have been these past 16 seasons. So with that in mind, what lessons can our beloved Chicago Bears take from the Patriots as they seek to build their own winning franchise?


1. Consistency is Key

In the 16 years they’ve been paired together as starting QB and head coach, Brady and Belichick have:

  • Made it to the Super Bowl 50% of the time.
  • Been 1st in their division 14 of 16 seasons.
  • Only missed the playoffs twice, and one of those years Brady was out for the entire season.
  • Never had a losing season.

Now it’s impossible to say exactly what their career trajectories would’ve looked like had they never been paired together (obviously Belichick already had success as a coach pre-Brady, and Brady is clearly the GOAT), but you can pretty much guarantee they wouldn’t have achieved this insane level of greatness separately.

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Eight Thoughts on a Bizarre Super Bowl

| February 6th, 2017

I couldn’t believe what I was watching. The morning after, I still can’t believe it. Eight thoughts…

  • The better team won this game. A lot was made of the adjustments made by the Patriots coaching staff as this game progressed but the truth is the Patriots were simply playing an awful game for the better part of three quarters. Brady missed wide open receivers. Edelman had a drop that was an easy 30-35 yard gain. Josh McDaniels couldn’t get a handle on things. When those mistakes stopped, the Pats scored at will.
  • After the brilliant Julio Jones catch, the Falcons are three kneel downs away from taking an 11-point, two possession lead and essentially ending the game. But what did Kyle Shanahan do? He went pass heavy. He went pass heavy!?!?!! Sack. Hold. For the second consecutive Patriots Super Bowl, their opponent lost their mind when the moment got too big.
  • The difference between 4-3 in the Super Bowl and 5-2 is night and day. The Patriots were staring down the barrel of being remembered as a slightly above mediocre Super Bowl team, with many pointing to luck (Pete Carroll) as the only reason they weren’t 3-4 in the Fantastic Football Foray. Instead, the coach and quarterback have five championships and lay claim to the label of the greatest ever.
  • Julian Edelman’s catch (pictured above) was poetic justice. For Tyree. For Manningham down the sideline. For the Welker drop in the open field. No, it didn’t happen against the Giants but there were few eyes not thinking of Big Blue when Edelman scooped the ball off the field of a Falcons defensive back. When that catch happened I thought, “this game is over”.
  • This was not the greatest Super Bowl of all-time. This was the greatest Super Bowl comeback of all-time. It’s hard to call a game great when one team completely folds. The Falcons didn’t sleep last night. They won’t sleep tonight. They won’t sleep tomorrow night. This is the kind of loss franchises have a hard time getting over and Atlanta immediately becomes the most fascinating team in the NFL in 2017. History and the odds will tell you this group will more than likely be sitting home next January.
  • How is James White not the MVP? His versatility and production were the number one key to the Patriots comeback. It’s always somebody you don’t expect with the Pats. This year it was White.
  • Shea McClellin, Super Bowl Champion.
  • The word I’d use for the game: surreal. I was texting with four different people over the course of the game. Here is a text from each one of them:
    • “Wow. This is just…wow.”
    • “I can’t believe this is happening.”
    • “Are the Falcons serious?”
    • “I can’t watch this.” (Jets fan)

One of the most memorable Super Bowls in history. And now the offseason begins.

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Super Bowl LI Prediction

| February 2nd, 2017

Honestly, I haven’t spent much time thinking about this Super Bowl. The NFL starts to drift from my mind moments after the conference championship games are concluded. (At this point, golf begins to take the leaves the lounge and comes into the showroom.) But having seen a boatload of both teams over the course of the season, here are five thoughts:

  • I don’t think the Falcons have enough in their secondary to handle the Patriots spread game. But Dan Quinn’s defense will need to do two things to keep Brady & Co. from piling up the points: (1) avoid the deep hit and (2) tighten up against the run inside the red zone.
  • Brady has lost two Super Bowls and both of them were not solely because of Eli Manning’s heroics. He lost those games because both of those Giants teams got after Brady with their defensive lines. Both of those Giants teams did not require blitzing Brady – which is schematic suicide – to pressure him into quick throws. While Vic Beasley led the league in sacks, the next guy on the Falcons had 4.5. They’ll need more than Beasley.
  • Is it safe to assume the Patriots will take Julio Jones out of this game when the entirety of the football universe believes the Patriots will take Julio Jones out of this game? If we all assume that, doesn’t Kyle Shanahan also assume that? And wouldn’t that mean there’s probably a healthy helping of Sanu and Gabriel and the two backs coming? I think Atlanta is going to have an easy time moving the ball.
  • This has nothing to do with Sunday’s game but I wonder where the Bears would be today if Phil Emery had listened to me and brought in Kyle Shanahan five years ago. I believed then, as I believe now, that Shanahan is going to be an excellent head coach in the league.
  • This game comes down to one player: Matt Ryan. He’s got a checkered playoff past but he has an opportunity to cement his legacy in the league Sunday and don’t think that hasn’t weighed on him the last two weeks. A Super Bowl title gives a quarterback a blank check for the rest of his career. Joe Flacco could write an essay for the Baltimore Sun denouncing the use of Old Bay seasoning and he’s still not going to be replaced as the Ravens signal caller.

The “expert” analysis seems to be moving towards Atlanta every day. I’m not going there.

New England Patriots 34, Atlanta Falcons 31

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Betting Super Bowl Sunday: Five Surefire Ways to Lose Money

| February 1st, 2017

Here are five bets for this weekend. Bet everything you have. Unless you have a problem. Then don’t bet anything. All odds from Paddy Power.

WASTE MANAGEMENT PHOENIX OPEN: STEVE STRICKER FINISH INSIDE TOP TEN – 12:1

Several years ago I became the first person in Queens history to lose $1,000 on Super Bowl Sunday before the Super Bowl came on TV thanks to the fine efforts of Bubba Watson at the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale. (A golf course I have played and loved.) It’s now become tradition for me to wager too much on this tournament, which often leaks through the opening kickoff and annoys many in the bar In which I’m watching.

Stricker is a very strange player. At his age and with his lack of consistent competition, he has two possible finishes. He’s either missing the cut by three shots or finishing something like T-4. I think he shows up this week and makes you a fortune.

COIN TOSS: TAILS

This is not a heads kind of game. Heads would be Steelers-Giants or Patriots-Cowboys. The Falcon presence on Super Bowl Sunday means tails will not fail.

FIRST TOUCHDOWN SCORER: TOM BRADY – 50:1

I had to double check these odds twice. Fifty to one?!? Listen, we know Brady isn’t exactly Colin Kaepernick but there are so many scenarios where I can envision Brady taking the ball into the end zone for the first score. And at this number, a $10 flier is winning you $500. So you root for a pass interference in the end zone on the Pats opening drive and you’ll probably get four tries to make magic happen.

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Super Bowl Preview Volume II: Why I Have No Problem With Greatness Prevailing

| January 31st, 2017

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, I hate more than fluke champions. It devalues everything I long for from the Chicago Bears; everything that brings me to the keyboard each and every day. I’m not arguing the Atlanta Falcons would be a fluke champion should they win the Fantastic Football Foray. Far, far from it. But the most definitive reason why I have no problem with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady winning their fifth championship together is simple: greatness.

The Patriots of this era are the most brilliantly run organization in the history of professional sports. Don’t give me the heyday Celtics or late 70s Steelers or late 90s Yankees or Jordan Bulls or one of those hockey franchises that wins a bunch. Every one of those aforementioned runs had a talent advantage on the opposition. Their guys were better than the other guys. They won because they should win.

The Patriots operate at a time where championship continuity is seemingly impossible. They let solid veterans walk out the door and turn castaways into household names. Rob Gronkowski done for the year and maybe longer. Who cares? They lose their Hall of Fame quarterback and still win. They lose his backup and, guess what, they don’t lose.

The Patriots have Tom Brady. And Tom Brady is great. But how many times have the Patriots had the most talented roster in the conference, let alone the entire NFL? Their current defensive roster, the league’s best scoring unit, is nowhere near as talented as the reigning champs in Denver. Their skill players on the offensive side pale in comparison to the group they demolished a week ago from Pittsburgh.

But they are great because of Brady. And Belichick. And Ernie Adams. They are great and if they win their fifth championship Sunday, I will applaud them. They deserve it. Theirs is the success of which all fans should dream.

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Super Bowl Preview, Volume I: Why the Game Lacks Juice

| January 30th, 2017

“Super Bowl” is maybe the silliest name for a sporting event on earth.

What makes the game a bowl? (Bleacher Report traced the completely arbitrary origins.) Were the leaders of professional football in the late 60s so unimaginative that they just lifted nomenclature from the college game? The World Series is at least a series, even if the world has nothing to do with it. Play the game at The Rose Bowl every year if you’re going to keep the dumbo name.

And super? Really? That’s the adjective they decided upon? Even in the late 60s the word super was lame.

     Todd: Well, Jim, the game is gonna be really terrific.

     Jim: The Terrific Title Game. What do you think, Todd?

     Todd: Doesn’t pop, Jim. The name has to pop!

     Jim: The Fantastic Football Foray!

     Todd: Sounds too much like a burlesque show.

     Jim: The Super Bowl? I know it’s lame –

     Todd: Nailed it!

This Super Bowl lacks juice. Three reasons:

  • The best storyline is something that might happen after the game is over, with Goodell handing things to the New England hierarchy. People actually care about this? I don’t even watch the trophy presentation. And based on the way a majority of Super Bowls have gone, I probably won’t watch the tail end of the fourth quarter.
  • This NFL season was awful but the postseason has been a particular kind of grotesque. Outside of Cowboys/Packers, was there even an entertaining game? (Or don’t tell me that thing the Steelers and Chiefs did was entertaining.) As a huge fan of professional football, I’m hoping this season will merely be an anomaly. But I think it’d be foolish to expect this Super Bowl to save the season. Still, one can hope.
  • The Falcons. If this were the Cowboys, the game’s juice would be out of control. If this were Aaron Rodgers, the Rodgers v. Brady would make people salivate. But there’s something bland about the Falcons, even though they have the most dynamic offense in the league. I’ll be rooting for them Sunday but if they lose, it’ll take me about seventeen seconds to get over it.

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Five Thoughts on Super Bowl 50

| February 8th, 2016

The game will be dissected all across the board for weeks. Here are just a few quick thoughts.

  • I don’t think I’ll ever forget the image of Cam Newton refusing to go all-in to recover his own fumble. The biggest and strongest quarterback in the league came up small in a massive moment.
  • Has any defensive player ever finished a season better than Von Miller? His AFC title game and Super Bowl were historic.
  • The Gary Kubiak / John Fox debate that jumped on the internet last night makes no sense. The debate people should be having is Wade Phillips / John Fox. I can end that debate now. Wade is one of the greatest defensive coaches in league history. Fox builds great defenses.
  • I don’t want to see Peyton Manning play football anymore. When Denver ran the ball on that late third down I just felt bad. Primarily because it was the smart call.
  • Usually you can’t label a team’s loss this simply but I will make an exception for Carolina. The moment got to them. They seemed to make every mistake. They’re young enough to rebound and get back there but they should show up with real offensive tackles next time.

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Super Bowl Fifty Gambling Prop Guide

| February 4th, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 12.17.09 PM

These odds are courtesy of the great Jimmy Shapiro, who emails the world weekly with various odds.

BET 1: JOHN FOX

How many times will “John Fox” be said during the Broadcast?

Over     1          (-140, 5/7)

Under   1          (EVEN, 1/1)

(Note: From kickoff to final whistle, halftime does not count.)

This seems like it might happen regularly during the broadcast but really why would it? Once the game begins, unless Fox is visible in the crowd, why would the announcers think to mention him? I’ll take the UNDER and feel safe with no worse than a push.

___________________

BET 2: RETIREMENT

Will Peyton Manning announce his retirement in the postgame interview?

Yes      +500  (5/1)

No        -1000 (1/10)

You’re getting 5 to 1 odds on him doing it so you have to take YES. If the Broncos win and Peyton Manning is speaking to Jim Nantz on the stage in a sea of confetti, can’t you see him dropping a reference or two to his “last game”? I can. Don’t load up here but it’s worth the gamble.

___________________

BET 3: SUPERMAN

How many times will Cam Newton do the Open Shirt Superman motion during the game?

Over     2.5        (EVEN, 1/1)

Under   2.5        (-140, 5/7)

 (Note: From kickoff to final whistle, halftime does not count.)

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