Behind the Mic: Thoughts on #51

I do not think anyone would argue the fact the Super Bowl #51 was one of, if not the best, Super Bowl game ever.  The drama, the comeback, the overtime, the improbable plays, etc. all made for just a tremendous game.  And the telecast had everything from the commercials, to the human interest, to the Gaga extravaganza.  As I watched the game, I made some random notes about it all.  I thought I would share them with you in just the random way I wrote them down.

  1. Joe Buck made an early mistake calling an Amedola catch an Edelman catch and then he compounded it by making the mistake again after correcting himself. Obviously, I have been there and from experience I can tell you there is nothing worse than getting off to a bad start during a broadcast.  It affects you right away.  Naturally, Joe Buck recovered much better than I ever did.  I like Joe Buck and Troy Aikman – I am not sure why so many do not.
  2. Don’t you want WATSON to do your taxes? That’s what H&R Block says they are using.  I just get a sense WATSON would find ALL the possible deductions.

  1. There was a small snippet about motorized tackling dummies used for the safety of the players. It was intriguing, but fleeting.  I certainly wanted to know more.  I guess whoever promoted it couldn’t afford more air time.
  1. To me, the Honda yearbook commercial was the best and the most creative. It took quite awhile to realize it was a Honda commercial, but the message to chase your dreams from yearbook “nerds” who did just that was intriguing and meaningful.

  1. The Bradshaw stain followed by the journey to a Tide removal was funny. Even James Brown got into the act later in the game.

  1. Watching Julio Jones of the Falcons make catches is sheer artistry. He comes off as being almost superhuman.  He would have been the hero if…
  2. The last offensive play by New England, a flat pass instead of throwing into the end zone, was the worst call of the game. Time could have easily run out if the receiver had not been tackled right away.  Therefore, no field goal and, therefore no overtime, and therefore, no victory.  A win made that play disappear from everyone’s memory.
  3. Did you find the CURE auto insurance with Todd approaching Mandy the creepiest commercial of the day? The message was “don’t follow too closely”, but Todd was a weird stalker.  It was not funny and bordered on “icky”.

  1. How will someone follow the Lady Gaga spectacular? From the 400 drones (amazing), to the leap from the stadium roof, to the show itself, Gaga delivered a Super performance!
  2. In the midst of a critical third down play by Atlanta at the start of the second half, I assume, like me, all of Pennsylvania got an Amber alert. The system, obviously, works.  It can even interrupt the Super Bowl.  I hope the little girl was found and is back home safely.
  3. Did you wonder, as I did, why New England did not seem to be in any hurry offensively when they were down 28-3? And the slow and steady pace continued right into the fourth quarter.  There was no sense of urgency except in my family room.
  4. There must have been @ 10 commercials that I either did not know the product or did not understand the connection to a product. Is that a good commercial?  I’ll check with marketing.
  5. I want an Alfa Romeo!

  1. In the excitement of the New England late drives, it seemed like everyone on the broadcast forgot about the spectacular Julian Edelman catch. He deserved more credit for the victory.
  2. Tom Brady IS the best quarterback ever!
  3. The NFL overtime rule is totally unfair. Each team should have the opportunity to have a possession.  Allowing a coin toss and one successful drive is unfair to the opponent.
  4. I know there are plenty of Brady haters, but the scene with his mother after the game was heartwarming.
  5. I saw Bill Belichick smile!
  6. The New England crowd booed during the entire Roger Goodell trophy presentation, remembering Deflategate and the Brady suspension.  Maybe that is when Belichick smiled!
  7. My blog prediction last week was New England – 31 Falcons – 27; it was 34-28 – pretty close!

 Final results – NFL Picks – Last week – 1-0
169-95-2 – 64%

 

 

 

Behind the Mic: #51 Should Be Fun

The stage continues to be set for Super Bowl LI (that’s #51 for those of you who are not Romans).  This matchup between New England and Atlanta looks like it could be one of the best games ever.

You know the names – Tom Brady and Bill Belichick versus Matt Ryan and Julio Jones.

Atlanta, this year, was the 8th highest scoring team in NFL history and Bill Belichick is the best defensive mind in NFL history and this year was no exception – the Patriots have the top-scoring defense in the league.  New England has Tom Brady, but Falcons’ head coach Dan Quinn made Brady and the Patriots very uncomfortable when he was the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks.  The Falcons, however, gave up more than 400 points during the regular season.

In the playoffs, the Falcons outscored Seattle and Green Bay by an 80-41 combined score.  Matt Ryan threw for 730 yards and seven touchdowns.  And Julio Jones is a super-human receiver.  During these playoffs, he became the first player in NFL history to put back-to-back 150+ yards receiving and two touchdown games together.  Belichick is known for saying he designs a defense to take away the opposing team’s best player.  That is Julio Jones.  If that becomes New England’s goal, then Mohamed Sanu and company should have a big day.

But, you must consider the fact that New England and Belichick have had two weeks to prepare for the Falcons’ offense.  Consider, too, the intangible motivation – the Patriots taking the trophy from Roger Goodell after the four-game suspension penalty imposed on the Patriots and Tom Brady to start the season.  The Patriots have been solid in the playoffs – easily beating the Ravens and Steelers.

So who will win out?  This year’s probable MVP – Ryan, or, perhaps, the greatest QB of all time, Brady?  You have two great defensive minds going against two outstanding offensive units.

I think we can expect lots of scoring – the over/under is 58.5 and that is the highest number in Super Bowl history, and could be attained.  New England is favored by three to win the game.

64% of the time this season, I have correctly picked the NFL winner.  I would like to see a Falcons’ win this Sunday, but it is very hard to go against the dynasty:

NEW ENGLAND – 31                 FALCONS-27
P.S. – Take the under!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. Super Bowl III was the first to use the term “Super Bowl” and the first to use Roman numerals. No Roman numeral was used last year for #50.
  2. The top 24 shows watched on network TV all-time are ALL Super Bowl games.
  3. Americans eat more food on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day of the year except for Thanksgiving.
  4. The first Super Bowl was simulcast by both NBC and CBS. Neither was happy with the other company and they had to build a fence to separate the two production companies and their trucks.
  5. No Super Bowl has ever gone overtime – five AFC or NFC championships have gone OT.

ENJOY THE GAME!!

Gary's Picks 

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (Last week – 1-1; Overall – 168-95-2 – 64%)

 

 

 

           

 

 

Behind the Mic: Beca-Nazareth Wrestling

It seems that every year the question on every District XI wrestling fan’s mind is, “Can ANYONE beat Bethlehem Catholic?”  The answer this year is a definitive “maybe.”

This past weekend the Golden Hawks dropped two dual meet matches to #4 in the nation Lake Highland Prep out of Florida and then lost to Malvern Prep, ranked #8 in the nation.  They will wrestle #9 Wyoming Seminary on Thursday, before moving on to the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference “championship day”.

This Saturday on RCN, the #14 Nazareth Blue Eagles will take their shot at the Golden Hawks, in the Eastern PA Conference Championship match.  The teams are each champions of their divisions, and will meet at 7:00pm on Saturday night at the Easton Middle School.  The atmosphere should be much like the old days when fans looked forward to three or four outstanding dual meets each year.  That environment has been missing for a few years, but rest assured the Middle School gym will be rocking, especially if Nazareth can give the Hawks a battle.

Both lineups are peppered with nationally ranked talent, and both offer plenty of balance throughout their squad.  There is a very good chance that Beca, banged up with injuries, can be in the throes of a three-match losing streak by the time Saturday rolls around.  Granted—all three losses are to top-tier academies – but the losses are not something that Jeff Karam’s team is used to.  How will they react?

Nazareth, under legendary coach Dave Crowell, will have their hands full.  They will need bonus points from their blue chippers, and will need to grab at least two tossup bouts.  Even if this all goes the way of the Eagles, they may need one more upset.

If Beca prevails, as I suspect they will, fear not Blue Eagle fans.  This may be the first of three consecutive Saturdays that feature these squads.  There is nothing that can stop a rematch for the District XI Team Championship, and both are favored to make the PIAA State Championship finals.

Scott Barr (who assisted with this blog) and Jim Best will be there along with the RCN television crew to bring you these two powerhouses.  It will certainly take us back to the days when Easton-Northampton, Easton-Nazareth, Nazareth-Northampton, etc. were on every wrestling fans’ calendar.

Those were the good old days of Lehigh Valley wrestling!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. Tom Brady of the Patriots and Matt Ryan of the Falcons text each other regularly during the NFL season. Matt Ryan played his college football at Boston College and Tom Brady always followed him.  Two good friends will try to beat the other in the Super Bowl.
  2. Up this way, we do not get to see the Falcons very often, but they were sure impressive yesterday against the Packers. No player was more impressive than Julio Jones – 15 catches, 247 yards, and 3 TDs.  Bill Belichick always says he wants to stop the opponent’s best player, but seven Falcons caught passes on Sunday.
  3. How do the Patriots do it? They draft Chris Hogan, a Penn State lacrosse player, and they make him a star wide receiver.  No organization is better at resurrecting careers and finding obscure players.
  4. During the Lafayette at Lehigh men’s game on Saturday, Lehigh honored the team that stunned Duke in the first round of the NCAA playoffs in 2012. The star of that team, C. J. McCollum, could not be there because he was preparing to play the Celtics as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers.  He did send a recorded message that was played in the arena.  He went on to score 35 points against Boston and Portland won the game.
  5. Only Allen remains undefeated in high school basketball as Bangor suffered their first defeat to Stroudsburg this past weekend. And then there was one.  Allen has Liberty and Stroudsburg this week – two tests for the Canaries!

Gary's Picks

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (Last week – 1-1; Overall – 168-95-2 – 64%)
SUPER BOWL PICK NEXT WEEK
 

Behind the Mic: Who Wins 50?

So the two #1 seeds in their respective conferences will ACTUALLY meet in the 50th Super Bowl championship.  One team (Carolina) scored more points than any other this year and the other (Denver) got up the least amount of yardage.  As I write this, Carolina is favored by 4.5 points.  I will attempt to analyze the two teams and pick a winner.

DEFENSE
“You win championships with defense.”  How many times have we heard analysts tell us that?  If, indeed, that is the case, it would still be very hard to choose a winner based on that adage.  Both teams have outstanding defenses (maybe that’s why they are in the Super Bowl).  Carolina’s defense has been particularly tough on quarterbacks.  They are the best team in the NFL for creating the lowest opponent passer rating.  They certainly made life miserable for Cardinals’ quarterback, Carson Palmer.  And linebacker David Newton, who broke his arm in the Cardinals’ game, is expected to play after having surgery this past Monday.

The Denver defense, however, has stopped almost every team and had little trouble stopping Tom Brady and the PatriotsVon Miller is an awesome player.  The Broncos were first in the league in total yards allowed and had 20 quarterback hits last week.  I would think that the diversity of the Carolina offensive attack would be a bigger challenge than Denver faced against the Patriots.

ADVANTAGE:  CAROLINA

OFFENSE
QB’s – Cam Newton (Carolina) vs. Peyton Manning (Denver) – wow!  Talk about contrasting styles.  Newton never seems to feel the pressure of the moment and always looks like he is just having fun.  Manning, on the other hand, is like a scientist in his lab studying and dissecting.  Newton has the stronger arm; Manning has won this game, has the experience and the knowledge of many years in the league.

Receivers – Greg Olsen and Ted Ginn, Jr. (Carolina) vs. Damaryius Thomas and Emanuel Sanders (Denver).  I like Carolina here because of their defensive secondary and Greg Olsen is not unlike the Patriot’s Rob Gonkowski.

Running Backs – Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert (Carolina) vs. C J Anderson and Ronnie Hillman.  Both teams give up very little rushing yardage, but with Cam Newton as a running weapon, Carolina should be a bit harder to defend.  Both teams, however, give up @ 80 yards per game on the ground.  Running the ball (except by Newton) might be a non-factor.

ADVANTAGE:  CAROLINA

INTANGIBLES

  • Peyton’s last game?  This would certainly give the emotional edge to Denver.
  • Turnovers?  Carolina has a +20 turnover differential compared to Denver’s -4.
  • Carolina’s cockiness? This could serve them well on such a big stage or derail them if things do not go well early in the game.
  • Extra points ARE important – Just ask the Patriots; they chased that one point the whole game.

ADVANTAGE – DENVER

THE PICK
This is a really tough choice (as it should be).  On paper I like the Carolina Panthers; but I do think the emotional edge goes to Denver.

THE WINNER OF SUPER BOWL 50:
CAROLINA PANTHERS  24 – 17

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME SUPER BOWL  MUSINGS)

        1. If Carolina wins, Cam Newton would become the only player to win the Heisman, a national NCAA championship, NFL MVP and a Super Bowl.
        2. If Denver wins, Peyton Manning would be the first quarterback to win a Super Bowl with two teams. He won at Indianapolis.
        3. The Browns, Lions, Jaguars and Texans are the only teams that have not played in a Super Bowl.
        4. A 30-second ad this year will cost $5 million, 11% higher than last year. 4 million people tuned in last year.
        5. If you like to gamble, the odds before the season started that the Broncos would face the Panthers in the Super Bowl were 184-1!

NFL PICKS LAST WEEK – 10-6; OVERALL 160-96 (63%)
NFL PICKS (WILD CARD) – 3-1
NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS – 3-1; PLAYOFFS (6-2)
NFL CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS – 1-1; PLAYOFFS (7-3)

Behind the Mic: Bucket List?

I have never been one to think about a “bucket list” – you know, things you would like to do before you actually “kick the bucket”.  I’m more into letting things come to me or making things happen when I truly want to do something.  And I really have not been disappointed – I have been to an NCAA college national football championship, a PGA major golf tournament, a World Series game, a Stanley Cup hockey game.  I have played some of the best golf courses – Oakmont, two TPC courses, the three Saucon Valley courses and courses in Bermuda and the Bahamas.  I have interviewed well-known personalities, – Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Woody Hayes, John Legend, Tony Orlando, Liza Minelli, and others not so well-known – the world’s ugliest man, the world’s fattest woman, the youngest snake charmer, etc.  Reflecting back on these moments, I remember that there was an interesting story concerning them all.  But I would not say these things were then crossed off my bucket list because I never really had a list.

I have often thought that one thing I would like to do, however, would be to go to the Super Bowl.  After watching the NFC and AFC championship games this past weekend, I was curious what it would cost to go see Denver vs. Carolina on February 7, at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, California.  I decided to investigate the cost.

I went to the NFL Ticket Exchange and found that there were tickets available in the very upper deck of the stadium at costs ranging from $4095-$4594.  I could sit in the upper deck on the 50-yard line for $4952.  I was a bit discouraged knowing I would still have to fly to California.

But then I got an e-mail from the Damien Scribner Hospitality Group.  It read:

Gary,

14 days to Super Bowl 50!  Make sure you are there to watch Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos and Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers battle for the Lombardi Trophy at Levi Stadium!

Super Bowl 50 Game Day Program
February 7th, 2016
Levis Stadium, Santa Clara, CA
*6 Upper Level End-Corner Tickets
*6 VIP NFL Players Pregame Party Tickets which include Hand Passed Appetizers, Multiple Gourmet Food Stations prepared by Legendary Chef Guy Fieri, Multiple Top Shelf Open Bars staged throughout the event, over 20 current NFL Players in attendance and introduced by our event MC, Erin Andrews- Sports Reporter for Fox for Sunday Chalk Talk with our guests as well as a special appearance by Frank Caliendo!
*All Inclusive Price:  $27,950

Super Bowl 50 Game Premier Program
February 7th, 2016

Levis Stadium, Santa Clara, CA
*3 Deluxe Double Occupancy Accommodations at the Luxurious Palace Hotel 

*6 Upper Level End-Corner Tickets
*6 VIP NFL Players Pregame Party Tickets which include Hand Passed Appetizers, Multiple Gourmet Food Stations prepared by Legendary Chef Guy Fieri, Multiple Top Shelf Open Bars staged throughout the event, over 20 current NFL Players in attendance and introduced by our event MC, Erin Andrews- Sports Reporter for Fox for Sunday Chalk Talk with our guests as well as a special appearance by Frank Caliendo!

*All Inclusive Price:  $39,500

We only have a limited amount of rooms at the Palace Hotel so please contact us right away to secure your spots to Super Bowl 50.

Thanks and I look forward to working with you on this exciting event!
Damian

That’s $4,658.33 or $6,583.33 apiece. But considering that it includes Guy Fieri, upper level, Frank Caliendo, and Erin Andrews – What more could I ask for?  I should go.

Well, to tell you the truth, the only way I could go and seize the opportunity to cross this one off my “bucket list” would be to literally pass the bucket, pass a hat, use GoFundMe or stand at the door of my favorite supermarket and plead.

Instead, once again, I will sit in my most comfortable chair, eat some snacks, and have a beverage.  You’re welcome to join me for, oh, I don’t know – $1,000?

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. Last Wednesday night, January 20, the Penn Palestra and Big Five basketball celebrated their 60th Temple played LaSalle in game one and Penn took on Saint Joseph’s in game two.  I grew up watching Big Five basketball on TV, listening to Les Keiter (“Tickle the twine”, “In again, out again, Finnegan”) call the games.  I also went to about a half dozen games over the years.  There was nothing like it and they had a great night of basketball this past Wednesday.  Happy Anniversary!
  2. Speaking of exciting games, they don’t get much better than this past Friday night when Liberty played Allen. The game featured nine ties and 11 lead changes and ended tied in regulation at 59.  With Allen leading 65-63 and seconds left in overtime, Cameron Hoffman raced down the floor and hit a three-point shot for the Liberty win!  It was appropriate that Hoffman would be the hero, having scored a career high 29 points in the game.
  3. As you know by now, Chip Kelly is the new 49ers coach picking up $24 million dollars for four years. (I assume he was able to get by the two weeks he was unemployed).  And the Eagles must pay $6.5 million on the final two years of his contract.
  4. I was a bit surprised that New England could not handle the Broncos defense on Sunday. The defense won the game for Denver, but all TV did was focus on Peyton Manning.  Carolina looks like a team of destiny this season.
  5. The Lafayette-Lehigh men’s basketball game scheduled for this past Saturday will now be played on February 8, at 7:00pm. It will be LIVE on RCN-TV.

Gary's Picks

NFL PICKS LAST WEEK – 10-6; OVERALL 160-96 (63%)
NFL PICKS (WILD CARD) – 3-1
NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS – 3-1; PLAYOFFS (6-2)
NFL CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS – 1-1; PLAYOFFS (7-3)
 
SUPER BOWL PICK NEXT WEEK

Behind the Mic: A Great (Between) Game

I think you would have to agree that Super Bowl XLIX (I like that they use Roman numerals because it helps me when I do crossword puzzles – I always confuse fifty and five hundred) was terrific.  And that was just the commercials!  The game was one of the best, but you can read about the game anywhere.  It’s the commercials that need to be discussed.  I thought there were some classics among the many and very few real duds.  Here were my top five:

  1. The Fiat 500X Blue Pill – I hope I just didn’t select this one because I’m old, forgetful, and, well, because I’m old. I just thought this was the most creative of all the ads.  It certainly kept you watching as the mini-drama unfolded and went right to the (dare I say climax) end until you realized the Fiat was promoting a newer and bigger crossover vehicle.  It was ingenious.
  2. Settle It the Usual way by Skittles – This one was a classic. Everyone in town – men, women, children, babies, and dogs all had, obviously, “settled it the usual way” by arm-wrestling.  I wonder, too, if there was a little NBC arm-twisting with Skittles since the candy got so many free plugs during the playoffs.  You know Skittles are Marshawn Lynch’s favorite pre-game snack (he ate some on camera right before game-time).  I laughed throughout the commercial.
  3. The Tortoise and the Hare by Mercedes – I both liked and disliked this one. I really thought the animation was excellent and, again, told a good story from beginning to end.  I really dislike the fact that I certainly cannot afford this beautiful Mercedes sports car.  Much like the tortoise, I felt like a loser after watching this one.
  4. First Draft Ever by Avocados From Mexico – This was a great concept for an NFL game – First Draft Ever. Doug Flutie and Jerry Rice were really good, the spot was humorous, and the choices were even funnier. However, I am not sure how I can help the company, Avocados from Mexico.  I do put avocado on my burrito and now feel it’s my way of helping Mexico.
  5. Loctite Glue –I never heard of the product, but I know it now and I would think that’s what a commercial is supposed to do. This featured very ordinary people dancing, gluing, and saving their marriage.  I now think Loctite!

There were certainly many others that were outstanding – “Like A Girl”, the Budweiser dog, the Jurassic Park promo, etc.  I would have probably loved the Kim Kardashian, Kate Upton and Victoria’s Secret commercials, but I was probably discussing the “Daddy” ads with my wife.  I may just have to go online to check those out.

 

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. Just when it looked like the Patriots would be done in again by a spectacular catch, the Seahawks coaching staff outsmarted itself by calling a pass play on the one-yard line. Marshawn Lynch is nicknamed “The Beast” because of the way he runs.  It was second down.  Give him the ball twice and then get clever.  Oh, well.
  2. It figures that right at the beginning of the Super Bowl there is a call that is questionable and NBC, unlike CBS and FOX, does not have a former official to call upon for an interpretation. Was it “roughing the kicker” or “running into the kicker”?  I believe Chris Collingsworth, but an official would have had more credibility.
  3. Be honest – Did you know who Malcome Butler and Chris Matthews were before the game? I never heard of Butler and only knew Matthews because he recovered the onsides kick in the Green Bay NFC title game.  They were the least likely to be the stars of the game, but each was.
  4. Are the Patriots’ four Super Bowl victories tainted by the cheating accusations? Think Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and A-Rod.  More to come on “Inflate-Gate”.
  5. I have basketball games on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. And NFL football is over.  Any suggestions as to what to do on Sundays, Monday nights, and Thursday nights?

 NFL PICKS FOR THE YEAR     (Last week – 0-1)  (179-85-1 overall – 68%)   

 

Behind the Mic: The “Super” Match-up

The Super Bowl is here – Seattle vs. New England. And it is certainly an intriguing one. Seattle is going for their second straight title and that hasn’t happened in 10 years when, you guessed it, New England was able to repeat as champions. New England is seeking a fourth Super Bowl victory which would tie the record for the most by any team (Steelers and 49’ers).

There certainly have been plenty of distractions during the first week of the two weeks of preparation. Who is not talking about deflated footballs? Is Richard Sherman going to be healthy enough to play for Seattle (he certainly has been healthy enough to talk this week)? Marshawn Lynch continues to be fined for obscene gestures and for not talking to the press and when he does, his answers are senseless. Tom Brady and Bill Bellichick only got asked about the weight of footballs, not the game, all week. But now it is time to play a football game.

Putting all of the distractions aside, here are my keys for each team to win the game:

Seattle:
5. Jermaine Kearse (WR) – He needs to catch the ball, not tip the ball (two tips led to two interceptions in the Packers game); his catch won the game. Catching is much better.
4. Russell Wilson (QB) – He needs to look to run more and throw less. When he runs, throwing to receivers becomes easier.
3. Kam Chancellor (S) needs to be matched up with Rob Gronkowski (TE). He has the size and the speed to deal with Gronk.
2. Marshawn Lynch (RB) – He, as he ALWAYS does, lets his performance do the talking. He should be able to run against the Patriots. Let the Beast loose.
1.  Defense – Get pressure on Brady and combine that with great cornerback play.

New England:
5. Julius Edelman – He needs to step up as both a return specialist and a receiver, especially if Seattle successfully defends against Gronkowski.
4. Derelle Revis (CB) and Brandon Browner (CB) – Both play their positions defending the run and the pass as well as anyone. Browner played for Seattle last year and may possess some inside information.
3. Offensive line – Open holes and protect. It’s that simple, yet it’s very difficult.
2.  LaGarrette Blount (RB) – I don’t like why he is a Patriot after what he did to his Pittsburgh team and I do not want him to do well. But… Packers ran on Seattle and he must also!
1. Tom Brady (QB) – He’s the best and can join both Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw as a four-time Super Bowl winner.

Coaches:
Pete Carroll – He appears to be the most energetic of the NFL coaches and his players seem to love to play for him. If that’s the case, they might want to exact some revenge for their coach since New England fired him in 1999 and hired Belichick.

Bill Belichick – Stoicism and preparation are hallmarks of him and his teams. Distractions aside, no one will be better prepared.

It sounds like the perfect match-up for a great, great game. Enjoy!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

 SUPER BOWL TRIVIA QUESTIONS:

1.   The Packers won the first Super Bowl. What team did they beat?
2.  We all know the Jets were the first Super Bowl American Football League Champions (Joe Namath). Which AFL team was the second to win the title?
3.  What Roman numerals will signify next year’s game?
4.  What three teams have appeared in eight Super Bowls?
5.  55-10 is the most lopsided Super Bowl score. Name one of the two teams in that game.

    Gary's Picks

(Last week – 2-0) (179-84-1 overall – 68%)            

AND THE WINNER WILL BE:
            SEATTLE – 27-23

  
ANSWERS:

  1. Kansas City Chiefs
  2. Kansas City Chiefs
  3. L
  4. Pittsburgh, New England, Dallas
  5. San Francisco over Buffalo (1990)            

Behind the Mic: Free Admittance is so Much Cheaper

 

One of the really nice perks about my job is the free admittance to sporting events. Granted, I have to “work” once I get there, but purchasing a ticket to an event is pretty foreign to me. Add to that the fact that I have a good seat; I get to talk to the players and the coaches; I can converse with the fans; and, sometimes, I even get free food. It’s all good.

There are some sporting events, however, I would like to attend ONCE in my life and to do that, I would probably have to buy a ticket like any other fan. So I investigated the price (in 2013) to attend some of the events on my list (obviously, in the manner I am accustomed to):

1. The Masters golf tournament – a four-day pass would cost me $4,486. I would need to travel to Augusta, Georgia, find lodging, eat for four days, and pay exorbitant prices on the grounds. I am guessing a total price around $6,000.

2. The Super Bowl – the average face-value price for a ticket for the Ravens vs the 49ers in 2013 was $1,210. Tickets were sold, it was reported, for as much as $316,000.

3. The BCS College football championship – For this one, I think I would like to sit in a luxury box suite. After all, I am used to broadcasting college football from a nice suite with free food and drink available. The best price I could find was $250,000 for the accommodations. I would be able to invite some friends – maybe I could get a half dozen to kick in $50,000 each. I am not against making a profit here.

4. Game 7 of the NBA Championship – that happened in 2010 when the Lakers met the Celtics. To sit at courtside (why would I want to sit anywhere else?) required that I purchase two tickets minimum for a cost of $115,000.

5. Major League Baseball’s All-Star game – Another event where if you wanted to sit behind home plate, you needed to purchase two tickets. That would set you back $7,200. I wonder what a hot dog and soda would cost me. Maybe I could sneak in my own peanuts.

My list may differ greatly from yours. So allow me to quickly give you some “ballpark” figures for some other major events:

Championship boxing – ringside – $30,940.
Stanley Cup Final – average price in 2013 – $1,380.
Wimbledon Championship Finals – If you are “unfortunate” to have a British finalist
(Andy Murray in 2013), and decided to buy a ticket the day of the final, it would set you back $65,000.
Opening Ceremonies for the Olympics – only $4,000.

AND, if you got caught up in the World Cup this year and were wondering what it cost to attend the championship final – a mere $990. The problem here is you have to get to Brazil – from my house, it was @$3,000 for flight and hotel!

My top five would cost me around $375,000 or so just for the tickets. My air-conditioned house, comfortable recliner, hi-def TV, and easy access to snacks and drinks have me reconsidering attendance. With the money I’ll save, I think I’ll Google the nearest Porsche dealership.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)
1. The Derek Jeter All-Star salute last Tuesday night was very special. I particularly loved the late Yankee PA announcer Bob Sheppard’s introduction of Jeter. It was the perfect touch, along with allowing Jeter to run off the field in the fourth inning.

2. An interesting side note on Jeter’s career. Dan Szymborski of ESPN has created a formula called ZiPS (sZymborski Projection System) which takes the first three years of a player’s career and projects his career numbers (here are Jeter’s projection numbers followed by his actual numbers as of July 19 in parentheses). For Jeter, he would have projected a .289 batting average (.311); 2,947 hits (3,411); 418 doubles (534); 114 triples (66); 263 HR (258); 1,287 RBIs (1,287); 336 SB (355). Very impressive projection system if you ask me.

3. I love the British Open. Links golf is just different; the TV time is done to allow you to do other things on the weekend; and it is a Major. It was great to see Rory McIlroy play so well again and even his fellow players were happy for him. Sergio Garcia finished second, but now has played in 64 majors without a win. He and Lee Westwood (66 majors) endure the title of “best players to never win a Major”.

4. It was a sponsor’s dream on Sunday at the British Open when the top three golf corporations were so visibly represented – Rory McIlroy represents NIKE; Sergio Garcia represents Adidas; and Ricky Fowler represents Puma. Pretty much equal time for all.

5. Two more interesting British Open tidbits – 1) McIlroy’s former fiancée, Caroline Wozniacki, also won her WTA tennis championship in Istanbul on Saturday. They were to be married in November. Rory broke off the engagement with a three-minute phone call. 2) A fan kept yelling “Sergio is going to catch you” at McIlroy after every shot. McIlroy had a fan removed by security at the 15th hole. No one was sure if it was the same fan.

 

Behind the Mic: Eating Crow at a Super Bowl Party

 

When I invite people over for a Super Bowl party, my wife and I usually serve some pretty good food. But this past Sunday all I ate was “crow”. If you read last week’s blog, you know why. If you did not read it, let me review my predictions:

10. Prediction: Seattle is not at home. The 12th man may be part of the crowd at MetLife Stadium, but will anyone be able to hear them? “Omaha, Omaha” will be easily heard and communicated at the line of scrimmage by Manning.
Reality: The crowd was very loud and seemed to be behind the Seahawks. I did not hear “Omaha” once!

9. Prediction: New England never came close to Peyton Manning in the AFC Championship. The Seattle defense is outstanding and the front four had 44 sacks, but, first and foremost, the Denver offensive line knows they must protect their franchise player.
Reality: Manning was rushed all day. The pass rush directly led to the two interceptions.

8. Prediction: Even though the Seahawks had 28 interceptions and forced 17 fumbles during the regular season, they are not likely to do that against the veteran receiving corps of Denver and the arm of Manning. Denver only had 24 turnovers all year.
Reality: Denver turned the ball over four times!! FOUR times!!

7. Prediction: The Denver defense may not keep Marshawn Lynch in check at running back, but they should be able to keep Russell Wilson in check. Even though he is a great athlete, it is his first Super Bowl. That has to account for a mistake here or there.
Reality: I couldn’t even get this one right. Denver DID keep Marshawn Lynch in check, but Russell Wilson was outstanding.

6. Prediction: Matt Prater, the Denver kicker, converted 25 of 26 field goal attempts this season, one an NFL record of 64 yards. He can get the nod from almost anywhere on the Denver side of the 50-yard line. By the way, Steve Hauschka of Seattle was outstanding, also. He made 33 of 35 attempts and every one beyond 50-yards (3). Prater should get more opportunities.
Reality: Hauschka – two field goals. Who is Matt Prater (no field goal attempts; his “on-side” kick was awful)?

5. Prediction: The Seattle receiving group is not as good as the Denver group.
Reality: Denver receivers are REALLY good three yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Seattle actually throws the ball downfield.

4. Prediction: All defenses have trouble covering a tight end. Manning has made a star of Julius Thomas. He had 12 touchdowns and 788 yards during the regular season and Manning knows when the tight end should be open.
Reality: I couldn’t even pick the right “Thomas”. Demaryius had 13 catches (a record); Julius just four, but I don’t remember ANY of them.

3. Prediction: Efficiency should beat passion. I don’t think there is an NFL coach better than Pete Carroll in emotionally getting a team ready to play. However, John Fox is great at “x-ing and o-ing”. Strategy, not emotion, should win the game.
Reality: Pete Carroll is better at both.

2. Prediction: The Seahawks cannot outscore the Broncos (and I think that’s the object of the game).
Reality: How smug and how wrong was this prediction? 43-8!!

And the Number 1 reason the Broncos will win – Peyton Manning!
Reality: Just shut up!!

I cannot go on; I have a black feather caught in my throat!!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)
1. The best line of the day came from Hillary Clinton – “It’s so much fun to watch FOX when it’s someone else being blitzed and sacked!”
2. Both of Seattle’s scores at the beginning of each half occurred 12 seconds into the period. By the way, the first score (a safety) was the earliest score in Super Bowl history.
3. Thank goodness for Bruno Mars! It kept the people at my house from eating and drinking for about 15 minutes.
4. My favorite commercial: Audi’s Doberman-Chihuahua hybrid dog.
5. I thought the Bud Light two-part commercial with a llama, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Don Cheadle, etc. took a long time for a weak punchline.

I DID NOT ENJOY THE GAME!!

NFL PICKS FINAL RECORD
174-92- 1 – 65%

 

Behind the Mic: “So, Who Will Win?”

Super Bowl XXLVIII has one of the most intriguing match-ups in years: the league’s highest scoring team taking on the team that gave up the fewest points during the regular season. It is, also, only the second time (2004) that the #1 seed in each conference made it to the championship final. It certainly appears that the two best teams will play in this one. Add the winter venue in New Jersey and you have the makings for a game we will talk about for years.

So, who will win?

Defense wins championships: Any follower of any sport is well aware of this adage and most fans believe it to be true.

That’s not my call, however. Here are ten reasons, in descending order, why Denver will win this game:

10.   Seattle is not at home. The 12th man may be part of the crowd at MetLife Stadium, but will anyone be able to hear them? “Omaha, Omaha” will be easily heard and        communicated by Manning at the line of scrimmage.

9.  New England never came close to Peyton Manning in the AFC Championship. The Seattle defense is outstanding and the front four had
44 sacks, but, first and foremost, the Denver offensive line knows they must protect their franchise player.

8.  Even though the Seahawks had 28 interceptions and forced 17 fumbles during the regular season, they are not likely to do that against the veteran
receiving corps of Denver and the arm of Manning. Denver only had 24 turnovers all year.

7.  The Denver defense may not keep Marshawn Lynch in check at running back, but they should be able to keep Russell Wilson in check. Even though he is a great athlete, it is his first Super Bowl. That has to account for a mistake here or there.

6.  Matt Prater, the Denver kicker, converted 25 of 26 field goal attempts this season, one an NFL record of 64 yards. He can get the nod from almost anywhere on the Denver side of the 50-yard line. By the way, Steve Hauschka of Seattle was outstanding, too. He made 33 of 35 attempts and every one beyond 50-yards (3). Prater should get more opportunities.

5.  The Seattle receiving group is not as good as the Denver group.

4.  All defenses have trouble covering a tight end. Manning has made a star of Julius Thomas. He had 12 touchdowns and 788 yards during the regular season and Manning knows when the tight end should be open.

3.  Efficiency should beat passion. I don’t think there is an NFL coach better than Pete Carroll in emotionally getting a team ready to play. However, John Fox is great at “x-ing and o-ing”. Strategy, not emotion, should win the game.

2.  The Seahawks cannot outscore the Broncos (and I think that’s the object of the game).

And the Number 1 reason the Broncos will win – Peyton Manning!

P.S. – If you want Seattle to win, consider this: The NFC is 5-1 against the spread in the past six Super Bowls and the underdog is 5-1 in those six games.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)
1. The forecast for the game is a high of 37 degrees and a low of 27. There is a 60% chance of precipitation.
2. Everyone knows about Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers performing at the half, but did you know Phillip Phillips and The Band Perry will perform during the pre-game?
3. Troy Aikman will be the color analyst with Joe Buck. Aikman won three Super Bowls with Dallas.
4. This is not the first Super Bowl in a cold-weather city. Super Bowls were played in Indianapolis, Pontiac, Detroit, and Minneapolis, but those were all played indoors.
5. The game is televised to 180 countries in more than 25 languages. It will be broadcast LIVE from the stadium in Chinese, Danish, French, German, Hungarian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and English.

ENJOY THE GAME!!

NFL PICKS FOR THIS WEEK
(Last week – 2-0) (174-91-1 66%)

DENVER – 27 SEATTLE – 20