Luke Waltons Forehead presented by the Sports Dude.

Friday, February 04, 2005 at 8:24 AM

Super Bowl Pick Time.

This is my fourth and obviously final look at the Super Bowl. We talked Patriots on Tuesday, Eagles on Wednesday and some keys to winning for both yesterday. Now, as promised, it is Friday and I am ready to make my pick.

I have talked my ear off, your ear off and done a lot of babbling all week long in anticipation of what I feel will be one of the greatest Super Bowls in a long time. I looked at each team a little and gave some of the keys to winning for both. I am not a sports pro, a sports journalist, or a paid analyst. In fact, even if I tried to get a job as one they most likely would laugh in my face. I am, however, a huge sports fan and the sports blog world allows me to at least pretend I am one! All that being said, all the garbage I typed all week, I think I am now ready to make my pick. To me, the Super Bowl comes down to one final unanswered question, and that question is this:

“Is this the biggest game of your life or is this simply the biggest game of the season for you?”

You see, that question right there is the biggest difference between these two teams for me. The Patriots have obviously earned the right to answer that question with “the biggest game of our season”. They have been there, done that and even bought two T-Shirts to boot! For them it is nothing more than the biggest game they have played in this season, period. They have already done it twice, so the “biggest game of their life” tag has worn off and now turned into just the biggest of the season.

The Eagles, on the other hand, have to answer that question with “the biggest game of our lives”. The biggest game of the season, to them, was the NFC Title Game two weeks ago against the Falcons and ridding themselves of that damn monkey on their back! Now, in the Super Bowl for the first time as a team, it quickly turned into the “biggest game of their life”. The media, the glamour, the glitz, the hype – this is all new to them. They are like that wide eyed teenaged boy who sees a girl naked for the first time in person – “WOW!!!!” Eyes big, jaw dropped; you have seen pictures of them before, even dreamed about them before, but until they are in your face for the first time – it isn’t anything like you dreamed it, it is much bigger and better! They have spent their week in that daze; will that work for them or against them on the field this Sunday?

See, the Eagles got through their big game two weeks ago, shaking loose that Ghost of NFC Title Game Past. Do they emotionally have anything left? After that big game, how can this one measure up? Or are they simply just “happy to finally be here?” Plus, how has all the first time hype worn on them this week? The Terrell Owens soap opera? Freddie Mitchell and his stupid mouth? Those are all things that keep popping into my mind as I try to make my pick between the Eagles and the Patriots. Also, I look at this factor – who did they beat to get here? The Eagles beat a Vikings team that back pedaled into the playoffs. They then beat a Falcons team that to everyone had to be one of the biggest surprises of the season. But, most importantly, they beat that NFC Title Game Ghost as well. The Patriots all but bitch slapped the Colts and the best offense in the league. Then, just for dessert, they put up 40 some points against the best defense in the league – on the road! To me those are all too big of factors to overlook as well. To me the Pats beat down the leagues best offense, torched the leagues best defense and now stand on the brink of making it 3 out of 4 Super Bowls. The Eagles only true test was shaking that monkey, beating that ghost and nothing more than that. I feel they would have lost to either the Colts or the Steelers had they been in the AFC and I can not ignore that as well. That all being said, here finally is my prediction.

Do I think the Eagles have a chance? Yes, I do. Here are my three guesses for possible outcomes in this game:

1 – Eagles win a close game.
2 – Patriots blow the Eagles away.
3 – Patriots do it New England style baby! Can you say last second drive and an Adam Viniteri field goal to boot once again?

What is missing, you might be asking yourself? How come there is no Eagles blowout listed above? Because there isn’t anyway in hell that it is going to happen, that is why! Belichick had two weeks to prepare, Freddie Mitchell opened his mouth, T.O. is only at 81% and I really feel the Eagles are just “happy to be here”. Sorry, but my gut is really telling me that option #2 is going to happen. Worse case scenario we see option #3, but damn if I don’t want to pick the Patriots running away with it! Even if T.O. was 100%, I still think – at the least – I would pick option #3. But, that being said, my heart follows my boy Brady (or shall we call him Mr. 9-0?) and I am going to post two scores because I keep going back and forth between my gut (option #2) and my brain (option #3). So here you go, the sport dudes final score prediction is:

Option #2 – New England 38, Philly 17

Option #3 – New England 31, Philly 28

Sorry, but I don’t see it being any other way. I will try and blog a little during the game, but that all depends on my blood alcohol level at the time. Until then, be safe, celebrate Super Bowl Sunday responsibly and don’t drink and drive damn it! Until next time, this is the sports dude signing off and saying “Go Patriots” all the way to Sunday!

Thursday, February 03, 2005 at 1:55 PM

Thursday junk.

- Lebron is so great, his bubble gum preference gets him into the Super Bowl.

- Terrell Owens a go, but not sure if he has the stamina for it. What, God cleared him to play but forgot to give him his stamina back?

- Endorse this! Player prefers to concentrate more on the "on the field" part of the game as opposed to the "off the field" stuff.

- Final recruiting rankings from Fox Sports Net, list the Wolverines as #2.

- Ordonez talks hit some road bumps; Tigers refuse to compete with themselves.

That is all for now, check back later for my Super Bowl pick! Later - the sports dude.

at 10:20 AM

Keys to winning.

This is my third look at the Super Bowl. Tuesday was an in depth look at the Patriots, yesterday we discussed the Eagles and tomorrow I will make my official pick. As for today I decided to discuss what I think are a few keys to winning for each team.

The Patriots:

Don’t believe the hype! That is about as important of a key that I can think of for the Pats. Dynasty this, dynasty that, greatest coach of all time! Just don’t start buying into it, don’t start believing it and don’t go getting a big head over it.

Seven point favorites. Instead of being the underdog, you are actually favored in this game. Instead of being picked to lose, like against Indy and the Steelers, you are expected to win. Again, don’t let it go to your head.

Run Corey run! The Eagles don’t have a great running game, so if the Pats can control the time of possession it will greatly help them out. Especially late in the game if it ends up being close. Take some time off the clock, control the tempo, ball control and keep McNabb on the sidelines.

Mr. 8-0 Tom Brady. He needs to continue to do what he does best – winning efficiently. Stay calm and lead the offense down the field. Let’s see, the Pat’s two Super Bowl wins came on last minute drives down the field to set up a game winning field goal. Who would you rather have in that situation come this Super Bowl Sunday – Brady or McNabb? You had better answer Brady every time.

The coach. Look, Belichick is the best coach “currently” in the game. He has had two weeks to study, scheme and game plan for the Eagles. What happened last time he had two weeks to prepare for an opponent in these playoffs? Please see the Colts and a score of 20-3 if you have forgotten! Follow his game plan, follow his lead and just continue to believe in what the dude does. He gets the best out of the players he has and makes them all feel involved in the game.

The Eagles:

The T.O. Soap Opera. Will he play? Will he sit? How much will he play if he does go? Is he going to just be a decoy? Quite frankly I think he has been a huge distraction already for the Eagles. The real question should be can the Eagles over come this distraction?

McNabb. He has to show up and he has to play the best game of his career. Without T.O. he is throwing to a bunch of #2 receivers at best and even with T.O. out there, the dude is only “81 percent”. The Eagles don’t have a great running game so it all falls on McNabb. As he goes so goes the Eagles chances in this Super Bowl.

The defense. They have to get to Brady and they have to stop the run. If they let Dillion carve up yards and the Pats control the time of possession battle it is all but over. If they let Brady get into a groove and give him time there is no chance in hell. They have to put Brady on his ass a couple times, disrupt his timing and get into the dudes head.

Freddie Mitchell’s Mouth. He called out the Pats secondary, jokingly or not, and basically called them a bunch of no names. Then he personally called out the Pats Rodney Harrison. He should have kept his mouth shut and I hope McNabb’s momma slapped him upside the head for it! He better put his game where his mouth is; otherwise it could be a rough day for the Philly receivers.

Just relax and have fun. The Pats have been there, done that and bought two T-Shirts to boot! You have got the NFC Title game monkey off your back, finally, remember that. Remember you are a great team, remember you deserve to be there, but most importantly remember what it is that got you there and just do it!

That is all for now, until next time my friends! Remember, tomorrow I make my pick. Later – the sports dude!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005 at 1:52 PM

Garbage Dump.

- Well, does this mean that Larry Brown is now going to the Lakers as well? Here is the story. Or another here.

- Well, I would hate to go out on a 4 interception game, but he is "The Iron Man" of the NFL. I thought at least one more year because of that Vikings game, but family is family and it is important to him. Plus, it was a long year for that family. Here is what I am talking about.

- Wasn't he supposedly gay a couple years ago? Well, from the sound of the bride he got and the bridesmaids that were there, DAMN! How come I wasn't invited to that thing? Oh yeah, I ain't famous. Here is the story.

- Go Blue, way to sign the hell out of the recruits. According to the article 23 recruits have now signed binding letters of intent.

That is all for now, later my hearties! The sports dude!

at 9:21 AM

The Philadelphia Eagles.

This is my second of four parts leading up to Super Bowl Sunday. Today we will look at the NFC Champion Eagles, where as yesterday we looked at the Patriots. Tomorrow I will discuss some of my keys to winning for each team and Friday you all will receive the much anticipated pick from yours truly. Now, onto the Eagles.

The Eagles were to the NFC Title game what the Buffalo Bills were to the Super Bowl - perennial losers. For three years straight they got to the NFC Title game, only to choke it all away on the field. All the things they did great during the regular season would just seem to disappear once the game began. This year they finally shook that monkey off their backs, defeating the Atlanta Falcons 27-10 to win the NFC Title and represent their conference in the Super Bowl. Many players openly cried on the side lines as the game came to a close, finally ridding themselves of the ghosts of three years past. The question is, can they now do it in the Super Bowl as well?

With or without Terrell Owens, this is still Donovan McNabb’s unit. In years past he was known as a scrambler, opting to run first and pass second. His passing game was considered adequate at best and he was better known for the things he did with his feet. This year he has improved his passing game and even when he does scramble he keeps his head up constantly looking down field. Then, when all else fails, he will tuck the ball away and run. He is a two way threat that has to now be respected for his passing as much as his running. Without Terrell Owens in there the receivers are a bunch of #2’s and #3’s at best, led by Todd Pinkston and Freddie ( loud mouth, nice hair ) Mitchell. They have a formidable running back in Brian Westbrook, who is also the teams’ second leading receiver although he lines up in the back field. He too, just like McNabb, is a double threat. They have a strong, gritty offensive line anchored by Pro Bowler Jon Runyan ( a former Wolverine, no real shocker there! ). A balanced offensive unit that helped them go 13-3 during the regular season, get the first round bye and home field advantage, and take them (FINALLY!!) to the Super Bowl.

Cast-off’s, that is the word that comes to mind for me when I think of the Eagles defense. Jevon Kearse, let go in the off season by the Titans because he was too old, too expensive, on the decline. He signs with the Eagles, helps them get to the Super Bowl with a very stingy defense. Hugh Douglas? He left the Eagles to sign with Jacksonville last season. He got the big money but didn’t pan out. So the Eagles don’t hold a grudge and bring him back. He has a pretty good season and helps anchor that defensive front. Jeremiah Trotter? Same thing as Douglas, he leaves for the “big money” the Washington Redskins are throwing his way, but in two seasons there he never really pans out. He put up some decent numbers for the Skins, but he never really fit into their scheme. The Eagles let him come back, again without a grudge, and he has a good season and again looks at home. They also signed Dhani Jones this off season ( U-M slappy in the house!!!! ) and have a solid defense all around. If they can get to Brady it may be a good night in Philly on Sunday.

David Akers is a solid veteran kicker. The most I know about him, to be honest, is that ESPN commercial where they pick the meter man over him to play some flag football. Why? Because he is a kicker dude! The commercial closes with him saying “You need a kicker!?!?” – well, the Eagles have a good one in him.

Andy Reid heads up the staff with Brad Childress as his offensive coordinator and Jim Johnson handling the defense. Much like Belichick and his assistants, it seems that whenever a head coaching position pops up, one of Reid’s assistants gets mentioned as a candidate. Reid took over the Eagles in 1999, posting a 5-11 record in his rookie season as a head coach. He has posted a winning record and playoff appearance for his team every year since, finally reaching the Super Bowl in his sixth season on his fourth try. He coaches like he looks – cool and calm, but everyone knows he is the man running the show. He may not get the acclaim and attention his opponent Belichick does, but he is a good coach in his own right.

They finally got over the hump, so what now? Are they “just happy to be here.” Or are they going to make some noise and be heard? Will T.O. play? Will he sit? Will he become too big a distraction? In all honesty I think this has the makings to be one of the best Super Bowls in a long time and I look forward to kickoff.

Later - the sports dude.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005 at 1:04 PM

Breaking News Type Stuff.

Just for the hell of it, I took a break and wandered around Here are a couple stories that caught my eye.

Emmitt Smith set to retire. Not that I really care, but I grew up a Barry Sanders fan. Emmitt was a good running back, but not the best of his time. That, to me, will always be Barry Sanders. Barry got his yards all by himself - no O-Line, no QB, nothing. Emmitt always had the best - pretty boy Troy Aikmen throwing to coke head Michael Irvin running behind a huge, coked up O-Line. But Barry, he had mediocre lineman and not too great QB's ( Ware, Peete, Kramer, Mitchel, Batch ). To me the record should have been Barry's and he would have done it quicker than Emmitt. Shit, put Barry on those Dallas teams and he would have had 2,000 yards every year easy! To me Emmitt was good, not great and DEFINITELY out stayed his welcome. Glad to see him go.

Sosa deal one step closer; Cubs close to signing Burnitz. Why is this important to Tiger fans? If the Cubs sign Burnitz they are most likely out of the race for Magglio Ordonez. Enough said! Later - the sports dude!

at 11:24 AM

Tuesday Quick Hits.

Quick Hit #1 - The Pistons meet the prez. Rasheed Wallace was none too pleased, but he went along and seemed to at least act cordially. Here are a couple articles on the trip here and here. The trip went well, aside from George W.'s couple of lame jokes - "So, nobody expected you to win -- I know how you feel" and referencing the catch phrase "playing the right way". The president actually said some nice things and Larry Brown was moved by the "play the right way" remarks made by Bush. Hopefully this won't be the only "W" the Pistons get in D.C., they play the Wizards tonight. I know, bad pun, but the president used some in his speech so why can't I.

Quick Hit #2 - Rod Thorn, president and CEO of the New Jersey Nets, is a bigger cock then I originally thought. Read The Detroit News' Chris McCosky's article here and see what I mean. Seems I only scratched the surface on some of the apparent hate he not only feels for Larry Brown, but for the Pistons organization as a whole. Apparently he waited until 5:55 P.M. ( the deadline to clear waivers for the Pistons to have reacquired Campbell was 6:00 P.M. ) to claim Elden, essentially waiting until the last minute to tease the Pistons into thinking that they would get him back. Think it wasn't done out of spite? Seriously, read the article, see all the things Thorn has done to the Pistons, any Piston fan will know that, when they read it, Thorn did this to simply piss the Pistons off. The very definition of a cock sucker to say the least.

Quick Hit #3 - Hockeytown now moving to Fraser, Michigan. Apparently some of the Red Wings players have decided enough is enough and want to just play some damn hockey! Here is an article on it. Well, it ain't the NHL but at least it is something for these guys, right? Plus, it will probably do more good for the Motor City Mechanics than it will for the Wings players, you know. For the record, the season is all but lost and I think the guys know this now. Sorry to all you hockey fans out there, but the players need to stop being stubborn and except the damn salary cap before the game can not be saved. I read somewhere that a 42 to 45 million salary cap was somewhere in the proposal mix and that the players thought that was a low ball unworkable number. What the freak are you talking about? That is more than enough of a decent number, get over yourselves already! Yes Red Wing fans, the days of Mike Illitch buying his way into the Stanley Cup Playoffs may be over, but isn't having some sort of team more important than no team at all? Or, worse yet, having "scab" players out there on the ice? Seriously, it is time for all the players to put their egos aside and get on board with the cap, there is no other way. Like it or not, it has to happen, it has to be that way, and the only alternative I see at this point are what I listed above - replacement players or nothing at all. I say give me the cap, but that is just me!

Well, that is all I got for right now. More to come later I am sure, but until next time I shall simply say good-bye. I am off to lace up my skates, I may be able to play for the Wings next year! The sports dude.

at 8:34 AM

The New England Patriots.

This is the first part of my look at the two teams in the Super Bowl. Today we will look at the defending champs, the New England Patriots. Wednesday we will take a peak at the Philadelphia Eagles, Thursday will be my overview of the game and keys to each team winning. Friday, as always, the Sports Dude will make his pick.

The Patriots have won two of the last three Super Bowls and look to do something once thought unattainable - a dynasty in the age of free agency. The one they missed, in 2003, went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the Oakland Raiders. That year, in fact, the Pat's didn't even make the playoffs. So, for the record, that is why the word "dynasty" is thrown around, but with an asterisk. A true dynasty, they say, would have at least made the playoffs. Well, for the record, they still went 9-7 that year and just missed a wild card spot. Before that season began they waived one of their veteran leaders, Lawyer Milloy and traded long time QB Drew Bledsoe. There were problems in the locker room because of it as well as an injury riddled season. Even though I agree that maybe some of the dynasty talk is premature at least look at the bigger picture before slapping the old asterisk on it. Most teams probably would have been worse than that 9-7 record, so do not tarnish the amazing feats this team has accomplished over the last four years. What Belichick, his staff and his players have done is remarkable and regardless if they win the Super Bowl or not should be talked about as one of the all time greats. Dynasty? Well, maybe if they win it! But the team takes on the manner of their head coach, Bill Belichick, and remind me of business men the way they approach the game week in and week out.

The field general, Tom Brady, two-time Super Bowl MVP and Mr. 8-0 in the playoffs leads the way. No flash, just poise. No 100 yard rushing games from him, just a pure pocket passer in every sense of the word. He is as cool, calm and humble as they come. He finally got a running back behind him this season, one Corey Dillon, whose power running style helped balance this offense. They finished their first regular season together at 14-2, earning a first round bye in the playoffs and have now earned the right to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Brady doesn't put up "gawky" fantasy league type numbers, but the dude is smart, efficient and - most importantly - he wins. He has a nice compliment of receivers, but that is what they are - a compliment. No T.O., no Moss, no Rice - just a bunch of guys who go out there and get the job done. The balance is there between the run and the pass, the poise, the leadership and the business like attitude.

Scrappy - that, to me, is the word that comes to mind. The secondary is beat up you say? HAH!!!! We hold Indy to three points - take that bitch! Can't beat Pittsburgh? HAH!!!! Roethlesberger who? They cover the field extremely well, they love to hit you and make you remember it, they make the big play when it needs to be made and they compete. Oh, and did I mention they scheme better than most and get the most out of the talent they have? Again, no flash, no big names, just guys who get it done. Vrabel, Brueschi, Harrison, McGinest - not quite house hold names like Ray Lewis, but they get down and dirty and take care of business. Oh yeah, and their nickel back - Troy Brown - happens to also be one of their best wide receivers. Yeah, the dude goes both ways - and I mean that as a compliment! Point is, you may not see them on the cover of any video games anytime soon, but they play "D" as a team and get it done. Did I mention they held Indy to three points yet!?!?

Adam Vinetari. Look, in New England's two Super Bowl wins, he kicked the winning field goal each time. Do you think this guy gets nervous under pressure? He may not have a huge leg but he most definitely doesn't get rattled. Hey that is huge come playoff time - just ask the Chargers and Jets about choking kickers in the playoffs!

Charlie Weis ( offensive coordinator and future Notre Dame Head Coach ); Romeo Crennel ( defensive coordinator and all but future Cleveland Browns Head Coach ) and the head coach Bill Belichick. Maybe the league has figured out a way to stop this guy - start stealing his assistants away! As far as Belichick is concerned, is he the greatest of all time? I don't know, that may be too hard to tell right now. Is he the greatest in the game today? HELL YES - hands down! The fact that he has two weeks to break down the Eagles, scheme his way up and down their play book and come up with a game plan for the Pats should put the fear of god into everyone in Philly. In fact, it should be illegal. The Eagles should have requested that Belichick be put in a isolation booth for the first week to at least make it somewhat fair. Crap, give this guy a week and look at what he does ( please see Indy 20-3 and Pittsburgh 41-27 for reference ), can you imagine his game plan after two weeks? They really should have had him on lock down for at least a week to give his counter part, Andy Reid, at least some chance in hell. Belichick and his staff are the best at what they do - game planning.

In closing, looking at the last two games and what they did, all you can say is "WOW!". Forget dynasty talk, forget Belichick, forget Mr. 8-0 Brady, forget it all! All things point to New England and that makes me nervous. Not going to make my pick just yet, but all things point to New England and them being better than the Eagles, whom we will discuss tomorrow. But the champion is crowned on the field, not on paper, so we will have to wait and see on Super Bowl Sunday.

Later - the sports dude.

Monday, January 31, 2005 at 9:50 AM

Monday Morning Quickies.

Quickie #1 - Sosa all but shipped to Baltimore. Pending physicals, league approval and all the other legal garbage that goes into a trade nowadays, the Orioles will get Sosa from the Cubs. Here are a couple articles from Fox Sports Net on the deal, here and here. From reading the articles, it sounds as though some of his team mates ( or should I say ex-team mates? ) with the Cubs aren't all that sad to see him go. I guess rule #1 for all you young kids out there should be this - never walk out on your team. Even though the season was all but over for the Cubs, Sammy walked out and the Cubs knew it was time to make the walk permanent. I think the Cubs will be better off without him and I expect Dusty Baker, a great manager in my mind, to get them in the playoffs this year.

Quickie #2 - Larry Brown heading to the Knicks this off season? Here is an ESPN article and a Fox Sports Net article on the subject. For the record, it really doesn't bother me either way. I take little of what LB says to heart and if he chooses to stay, go or retire is really not a concern to me. I think it is unlikely he will be back next season, maybe one more at best, but even when we signed him to a five year deal I knew it wouldn't last all five years. The dude is a coaching gypsy, that is what he does - he moves! Besides, my heart tells me that Bill Laimbeer is waiting in the wings for the job, and that excites me more than anything else these days! The Pistons will be fine, Larry will be fine and the world will continue to rotate on it axis no matter what LB does. Here is, also, Mitch Albom's article on the Larry Brown soap opera - give it a read.

Quickie #3 - Rod Thorn and the Nets continue to do whatever it takes to screw the Pistons. Look, Rod Thorn, Nets prez and CEO, had a war with words going with Larry Brown last year during the playoffs. LB said the Nets coach Larry Frank got "lucky" and didn't deserve the coaching job, Rod Thorn said that LB had no cred, etc. Then Richard Jefferson goes down this year and Thorn calls it a cheap shot. The two clearly don't like each other and when I heard that there were only two teams able to stop the Pistons from getting Elden back, the Nets and Charlotte, I knew the Nets would do it. Even if they had no room for Elden, I knew the Nets would do it just to stop the Pistons. I hope Elden retires and screws the Nets back, but I am sorry it didn't work out. I hope that Joe D. has a back up plan somewhere, because we need another big. Put a call into Derek Coleman, I think he is still available right? We waived him earlier in the year and I don't think he got picked up, did he? Freaking Nets, can't stand the dudes!

Well, that is all for this wonderful Monday morning. It is Super Bowl Week, so as promised tomorrow I will break down the Patriots a little and have a look at them. Wednesday is another stupid list and I am trying to come up with something a little Super Bowl related for that. Thursday will be the Eagles day and Friday will be the big game prediction from yours truly, the sports dude. Until next time, good-bye!

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