Posts Tagged ‘nfl’

Super Bowl over, on to NASCAR!

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

The Super Bowl was actually was a decent game – after many years growing up in which the game itself was a blowout, we’ve had nearly a decade of actual, competitive games (with a few outliers, but still).  The food at my party was pretty decent, too.  After trying (and failing) to find any kind of outstanding (or even non-mediocre/bad) Mexican restaurants in the Boston area, I’ve been really wanting a quality Mexican food meal lately.  So, I braved the 30-degree weather & grilled one myself outside.  (My buddy Steve was a good sport & came outside with me).  Sure, it was on a propane grill rather than charcoal, but I was pleased with the results.  (Seriously, New Englanders, stop being so goddamn snotty about grilling and grilling technology.  When you can tell me the differences in complexity between fajitas and a burger — or even how to come remotely close to making a decent fajita — then you can justifiably get indignant over my fuel source.  Until then, kindly cram it).  I wasn’t in mid-season form, since grilling in Winter is something I’ve never done before, but it was good nonetheless.

Several of my friends are rather despondent about sports now, because they either don’t give a crap about much other than football.  Granted, those people are mostly from Texas, and that’s not a very uncommon position there — football is first, and everything else is a distant second.  New Englanders are less than enthusiastic about the Red Sox and seem to have fallen back into the belief that nobody can stop the Yankees.  (A century of beatdowns is bound to leave some psychological scars, no matter how good your team finally gets).

I, however, am excited for the start of NASCAR season.  I like that the Daytona 500 is the first race of the season.  The field is wide open — there’s nobody with a runaway points lead (read:  Jimmie Johnson).  It doesn’t really have any analog.  You’ll hear people say “what if the NFL had the Super Bowl on the first week of the season?”, but that doesn’t make any sense.  Yes, they’re both the biggest event in their sport, but the Daytona 500 is still just one race.  It’s a big race that makes for great competition, but I like that the season isn’t over after it.  Rather, it’s only just begun.  (And no, the Bud Shootout doesn’t count — it’s not an official Cup-series race).  To me, the story surrounding Dale Earnhardt Jr. is one of the most interesting in sports right now.  He had an awful season last year and never really looked competitive, even after now having 2 years with Hendrick Motorsports.  If he has another year like that, it’s conceivable that he retires (or at least makes suggestions that he might).  It’s hard to understate the damage that would do to NASCAR as a sport and as a business.  NASCAR desperately needs Dale Earnhardt Jr. to show some signs of life this year.  (And hell, I want him to do well — the sport’s just more interesting when he’s performing well).  And, here’s hoping that Tony Stewart puts Kyle Busch in the wall at Daytona — again.

Football Roundup

Monday, September 28th, 2009

First, USC is still on a long road of recovery after sucking monumentally against Washington.  Yes, UW is a great story.  Even USC’s second string should have beaten a team that went winless last year.  (If you believe USC is a championship-caliber program, then the championship-caliber program’s backups should also be pretty darn good).  I’m still not sold on Matt Barkley (see:  USC offense’s inability to convert on 4th and goal — twice — against Washington State).  Still way too much inconsistency, and I think Barkley would have lost against Washington, too.  He threw some legitimately great passes in the 1st quarter and then proceeded to do nothing.  That said, Aaron Corp is a headcase, and god help the Trojans if they come to rely on him.  In his garbage-time playing in the 4th quarter, he managed to fumble.  Ouch.  Unless the offense takes a leap forward, I expect USC to lose at least one more game this year — possibly against UCLA.

Outside of the Pac-10, what an awesome win for the Houston Cougars.  I’m certainly no fan of Tortilla Tech (fun to watch, but I have personal experience with their annoying-ass fans), but it’s just great to see UH not suck.  Texas A&M, are you taking notes on how to be a decent team in Texas without UT’s recruits?  Also, UT — do.  not.  care.  While I’d love to see them lose quickly (OU — again?) to deflate the UT hype, there might be something satisfying about seeing them get pummeled by Florida or Alabama.

How about those Houston Texans?  Now, it’s nice to see Schaub being productive (he’s actually on my auto-drafted fantasy football team), but the defense is nothing short of awful.  That was the Jaguars.  The Jaguars!! Granted, the Texans got totally boned by the referees on the game-tying touchdown (ie, non-pass-interference by Kevin Walter in the endzone away from the play, when he was trying to run in traffic), but they also shouldn’t have given up 31 to the Jaguars.  Rated #1 in the AFC South, huh Sports Illustrated?  Thanks for getting my hopes up, again.

The mythology of Brett Favre

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

I used to be a Brett Favre fan.  It was hard not to be — this guy could seemingly do anything in the 4th quarter with Green Bay in the late 90s.  Throughout that run, he was the iron man (who never missed a start) who would come out in near-zero temperatures and lead the Packers to victory.  That was his mythology.  But, I’m fed up with the press still buying into that despite all of the evidence to the contrary that he is, in fact, a selfish player who has no concept of “team” (in what is one of the ultimate team sports).  And after last night’s preseason game against the Texans, apparently he’s something else I didn’t think he could be:  a dirty player.

His recent prima donna routine has been tiresome and certainly did a lot to destroy his formerly stellar legacy.  The whole “will he retire/won’t he retire” BS got old the first three seasons he did it.  Green Bay got so tired of it that they eventually forced him out.  But instead of taking the hint that maybe he didn’t have a whole season in him anymore, he went to the Jets last year, played half of a season fairly well, and then proceeded to tank his team right out of playoff contention.  I get that he’s a competitor and needs that competition — it’s something people love about sports.  But, what he did was something more than that.  He made the game solely, and completely, for him.  And after that, the mythology of Brett Favre grew again.  He seemed to get that he might’ve pushed things too far, and he claimed to retire – again.

This summer, with ESPN parking Rachel Nichols in his home town, he went through the whole “will-he/won’t-he retire” bullshit again.  Like a petulant child, he said he was retiring (ie, quitting) when the Vikings told him he’d have to go to training camp to learn his new team’s offense.  (Favre is somewhat notorious for skipping training camp with Green Bay).  But, he went on Letterman & basically said “who knows” if he’d play if he “felt the itch” during the season.  In other words, it wasn’t over.  On major network TV in the largest media market in the world (the market of his former team), he goes on TV and tries to coyly claim “who knows”, and then bemoans the speculation of the media — the media that he most obviously is courting.

And this is where the mythology of Brett Favre is so frustrating.  The media (and he) portrays Brett Favre as this good ol’ country boy who just likes to play football and is just so horribly misunderstood throughout his dealings with teams.  In reality, he’s a selfish me-first guy who shopped for teams that would let him get away with skipping training camp and basically gets away with it for the sole reason of his (now-sporadic) ability to throw touchdowns.  Fine.  There are worse guys in the league, for sure — but let’s not pretend he’s some great guy.  He’s an all-time great talent past the peak of his career who happens to also be a selfish player, who pretends to be a folksy nice guy.  Pluses, minuses.  I can deal with that.

That brings us to last night.  Lining up at the WR position in a wildcat formation, Favre cracked back on the Houston Texans’ safety, Eugene Wilson.  That is, he delivered a purposely illegal hit on Wilson’s knee, who was injured and expressed relief that he could even walk after the game.  That type of hit is illegal because attacking the player blindly at the knees is notorious for incurring career-ending injuries.  And in this league, we’re talking about costing another guy several hundred thousand dollars, possibly millions.  Favre was flagged for the foul, and hopefully he will be fined.  (Let’s be clear — if that was a linebacker delivering the same hit on Favre, the linebacker would be fined and possibly suspended).  Even ESPN’s commentators, who incessantly and effusively mentioned Favre throughout the night, called the hit what it was:  dirty.  That doesn’t make Favre “a dirty player” by nature, necessarily.  He hasn’t been in the past.  But, Favre is not the mythology of his past, either.  Favre is what he is now.  And right now, he’s a player that will play through the 3rd quarter of a preseason game and take a career-ending shot at another player’s knees in a meaningless game.