THE CROSSOVER EPISODE XXIII
LOS ANGELES — Sundays at the NFL Network are a beast all their own. The energy and buzz in the building can be felt from studio to newsroom and behind the scenes as one-by-one the games come to a close and the highlite shows go on the air. That feeling has without a doubt carried over this year into the offseason.
That’s why I was excited to finally track down my Sunday partner in crime for the last two NFL campaigns, Justine Brown, and have her on The Crossover to talk about one of the wildest weeks the NFL offseason has seen in quite some time, possibly ever. And she KILLS IT. (click the above arrow or here to listen)
From Peyton Manning finally deciding the location he wants to finish his career - Denver?! - to penalties levied against the Saints for their Bounty Program of the last few years to yes, wait for it, Tim Tebow being traded to the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets! What could happen next is anybody’s guess and we break all that down.
Of course, Justine is a huge hoopster, so we analyze the NCAA Men’s Tournament as we hit Sweet 16 weekend, talk about the upcoming Syracuse/Wisconsin matchup and if we really think Kendall Marshall’s injury is going to derail North Carolina.
We finish up the show with a little NBA talk as we near the end of the shortened season, re-live Linsanity and wonder if Dwight Howard can really be The Man in Orlando or another franchise. To close the show, we look back on how the both us, two small-town kids, came to land in Los Angeles and find our own niche and enjoy ourselves is this crazy place.
As always, check me out on Twitter (@chris_brockman), thanks for listening, and spread the word!
- Chris Brockman
10:35 am • 22 March 2012
Cross This One Off The Bucket List
HOLLYWOOD, CALIF. — It’s always amusing to me how Joe Sixpack and Susie Homemaker start using pop culture sayings and catch phrases in their daily lexicon virtually out of nowhere. More often than not, they come from the cinema – in the ’90s they came from SportsCenter. Such, I’d never heard of the term “Bucket List” until the 2007 film of the same title staring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Prior to, everyone just had stuff they wanted to “do before they die.” I was no different.
After Sunday, I can now cross something off both lists: walk the red carpet at the Academy Awards.
In the spirit of the theme of the posting, allow me to recant how it all went down Tarantino Style:
About a month ago, I had the idea for the Rich Eisen Podcast to have Jim Mora, Sr., our resident film critic for the podcast, interview celebs on the red carpet. Both Rich (our humble host) and Chris (our even humbler audio producer) couldn’t have been more enthusiastic. Mora said he’d seen most of the films and the three of us assumed he’d be a hoot hobnobbing with the biggest names in Hollywood. His “Playoffs?!?” rant is world famous and he’d be able to crush any interview.
However, and this was something we semi-anticipated, we were well past due for the registration date for Red Carpet credentials. But wouldn’t you know it; Rich happens to know a guy who knows a guy (Terry Benedict voice) and Chris talked to him and put it all together in roughly the amount of time it takes for Eli Manning to win two Super Bowls.
I got the call mid-workout a mere nine days before the 84th Annual Academy Awards, “I just got off the phone with the president of the Academy,” Chris said; we had no crew and no person to actually do the interviews on the red carpet (though I am fully schooled and qualified - cough, Syracuse, cough). The Square 1 plan was for me to attend with someone and make TV gold. We had some feelers out to a handful of potential players with Mora on the shelf with back pain, and after Terrell Suggs wanted an actual ticket to the Oscars. Um, yeah, about that. So on Monday morning, six days before showtime, we had no interviewer.
Then we caught a Doug Flutie Hail Mary in the form of a Super Bowl MVP and Dancing With The Stars Champion, Mr. Steelers Nation himself, Hines Ward. Turned out Hines was in Las Vegas for Jerome Bettis’ birthday and could easily spend a Sunday afternoon with me on the red carpet.
The Tuxedo (Wednesday)
It was all coming together, now five days out, but first thing was first: I needed a tuxedo. That’s right. Apparently, one of the caveats of getting to be on the Red Carpet (capitalization necessary) is you have to be suited and booted, as Snoop would say. So, I rolled down to the Marina Del Ray Men’s Warehouse to try and find the perfect Oscars tux, but since I had to front the cash up front, I decided with the most basic I could find. I asked for some suggestions on Twitter and only got yahoo responses such as an all-white getup and the Dumb and Dumber look. Thanks, but no thanks, guys. I did, however, have my eyes on a pair of patent leather Chuck Taylors, but the girl told me they wouldn’t be here in time, so I opted for regular dress shoes (more on this later).
Friday afternoon, I had to go make sure my tux fit to perfection, and as I soon found, that was far from the case. Apparently, I ordered pleated pants, which more or less looked like parachutes attached to my legs. I looked like an extra in an MC Hammer video. Even my 3-button jacket looked less-than sharp. Since I was already paying a rush fee because I needed it on such short notice, I figured another fee for alterations wouldn’t be a big deal. My new Calvin Klein tux had flat pants and two buttons, which looked great on the model in the book, which surely meant it’d look great on me. My shirt sleeves were a little on the short side, but I didn’t want to be even more of a hassle than I already was.
However, and this is the most important wardrobe nugget: the patent leather Chuck Taylors, which were previously told to me could not be ordered in time, were available for sale. After being told this, I purchased them. That’s how I do my business. One last tux fitting on Saturday confirmed I made the right choice the second time around and would at least look the part among the horde on the crimson mile.
Throughout the week, as I told people who asked, I was really looking forward to this once-in-a-lifetime experience, but would feel much better about it when we were on the carpet and in place and ready to go. There was just too much that could go wrong leading up to for me to feel comfortable; what if Hines canceled? What if the Academy realized we’re a sports podcast cut down into a TV show? What if my tux didn’t fit? What if the car service wasn’t on time? What if the camera guy got stuck in Nashville? And on and on.
The Credential (Thursday)
With my tux reserved I needed to head down to Hollywood and Highland and pick up what surely was to be the new prize in my short press career: my Academy Awards credential. Now, during Oscars week, the city of Los Angeles shuts down half a block of Hollywood Blvd from Highland Ave west past the Hard Rock Cafe, which is a pretty big block section. It’s where the Kodak Theatre is located, as well as a mall, Chinese Theatre, El Capitan, and the Roosevelt and Renaissance hotels (Google Earth it, yo). So not only is traffic a nightmare (on top of what it already is in that area) but there are a billion tourists because it’s the biggest week of the year out here.
Once parked, I navigated my way through the hotel and found the credential room, which was set up with three stations. I gave the dude my ID and said who I was with, to which he replied, “why is the NFL Network here?” I explained, in fact, what we were doing there and he gave me the blank stare of a cow.
I proceeded to stand in front of the third station and did my best to try and look cool in my photo. Keep in mind, I take some of the worst mug shots ever on legal documents; my passport and drivers license are beyond embarrassing, in my 2003 U.S. Open credential I literally look like I was just released from prison, and in my NFL Network badge I have a serious case of red eye.
After I got my credential, which as I hoped, was pretty swank (and for once I took a good picture), I called up our Oscars contact, Tarrah, to help walk me through what Sunday was going to possibly be like. She had a 617 area code phone number, meaning she was from Boston, and I knew we’d be in good hands. The Boston University grad walked me down to the Renaissance lobby where we’d hang out before heading over to our spot on the Red Carpet.
Curious, I asked if I could see where we’d be set up, and we soon made our way back through the mall out to our post. And let me tell you, I expected to be way down packed in the corner where no one would see us. Nope. We were right near the mouth of the entrance to the Kodak Theatre. Of course, I asked about taking pictures and Tweeting on the carpet, and Tarrah assured me it was fine, so long as I didn’t Tweet out a picture of my credential, which was good timing as I was going to do just that once I left.
With everything seemingly falling into place, I started mentally preparing myself for what could take place on Sunday. While at the gym I started jotting down some possible questions Hines might ask, as surely he wouldn’t know who some of these actors are just like they may not know him. Some I came up with were obvious ones such as “who are you wearing?” and “what do you think you’re movie’s chances are tonight?” and others a little more playful like “do you think Peyton Manning is coming back next year?” and “if you win tonight, where’s your Oscar going to sleep?”
The Event (Sunday)
Sunday morning I woke up with a good feeling, though. It was game day. If you ever played a sport, you know there’s just another feeling on game days. The juices are flowing a little better, your senses are firing a little hotter, there’s almost this sixth sense flying around where you can tell something’s about to happen the moment before it does. You’re like SpiderMan.
With that in mind, I rolled down to NFL Network to print out of my stock questions on cards and meet up with Hines and his manager and get dressed. He was on time and we both looked beyond dapper in our black ties. Our driver, Bob, who said he drove Michelle Williams to an awards show earlier this year, got us over to Hollywood and Highland, which was a zoo, in no time. Once inside, Tarrah was back to rush us upstairs to get Hines and his manager’s credentials made. At the same time, all of the seat fillers were getting theirs. It was amusing to me to see all these regular schmoes in ballroom gowns and tuxes, which was basically what I was. We hung out in a back room for a few minutes, Hines rehearsed some of the questions, before heading out to the Red Carpet to get in position.
Once outside, the enormity of the moment started to kick in. I began to actually feel like I was at the Oscars. The plastic was off the red carpet and statues, the bleachers were filled with fans and members of the military, and there was a definite buzz about the place. Cameramen and hosts were doing their thing, and of course, Kevin Frazier and Brooke Anderson of “The Insider” were posted up right next to us taping all their teases for that night’s show. Surprised when they first saw us, in between takes, they’d stop and talk to Hines and get the lowdown on what we were doing there in the first place. Anderson, as it turned out, went to the University of Georgia (same as Hines) and was freaking out. In fact, that was a theme on the Red Carpet before the show; people coming up to Hines and asking for pictures.
Of course, I had to get one myself.
In one of the coolest moments of the afternoon, there was a contingent of Steelers fans sitting in the upper corner of the one of the bleachers, and they just lost it when Hines walked by the first time. They were even decked out in Black and Gold. Soon thereafter, we taped a few takes of an open for Hines, and then waited around for celebs to start arriving. Officially, it was set to begin at 2pm but it was at least 3pm before we noticed someone we all recognized: “The Artist” actor James Cromwell, who was just beginning his march down reporters row. Before he got to us, we did our first interview with Frazier, the former Fox Sports and ESPN anchor, gave Hines some tips on how to talk to the celebs and what to say if he didn’t know who it was. I thought it was a pretty valuable lesson as Hines was pretty nervous having always been on the other end of the microphone prior to this point.
After Cromwell, we knocked out interviews with the guys from Price Waterhouse Coopers (aka the keepers of the letters with all the winners), Wolfgang Puck, Mark Bridges (who later won the Oscar for Best Costume Design in “The Artist”) and an original song nominee from “Rio,” who was from Brazil and gave Hines a few end zone dancing tips.
When Jane Seymour stopped by and her husband told us the Red Carpet was all about the cleavage, things really started to heat up and get crowded. From there it was a zoo. Our camera guy, Hines, his manager and I were just yelling at people as they walked by trying to get them to come over. For some, it worked. For others, they turned and waved and kept on walking, or just flat out acted like they didn’t hear us. The biggest snubs included P.Diddy, though that’s partly Frazier’s fault for letting him go when he said he’d pass him down to us after; Cameron Diaz, Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, Sandra Bullock, Michelle Williams and Christopher Plummer. In our defense, the big name female celebs didn’t really talk to anyone, so I didn’t feel that bad.
Some of them actually stopped what they were doing to come over and talk to Hines because they recognized HIM. They did one of those, “is that who I think it is?” looks and then realized they had to find out what he was doing there. The best of that was Nick Nolte, who looked like he’d been up since the night before with his all white hair and beard (for his HBO show “Luck”), flushed face and barely audible speech. He was outstanding. Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Company, was another who came over because he regonized Hines. He even said ours was the only network he agreed to speak with and then proceeded to tell two great stories about how he let George Clooney design his tux that night and another about going to the Super Bowl this year (he’s a Giants fan), and even told Tom Brady if he wanted to know how to win the big one to come to New York.
We did manage to wrangle in Glenn Close, Anna Faris, Jason Segal, who after Hines said he wanted to see in a football movie, said he’d naturally play tight end; a total ham, but that’s exactly what we were looking for for our piece. Milla Jovivich said something about not being a football fan but being into boxing, and Berenice Bejo wanted NO part of the interview, Bo Derek told a story about getting a bottle thrown at her at a Raiders game (of course), and Tony Bennett, who I’m guessing had no clue who Hines was, mumbled something about people always root for winners and George Clooney doing it right by making memorable movies.
Ah yes, Clooney. The last man on the Red Carpet not named Brangelina, came up to us just before the official start of the show with his current girlfriend: Stacy Keibler, whose gold dress had her actually sorta looking like an Oscar. I’d heard some things about Clooney in the past and from what I could tell, they were all true. He was as nice and personable as you could be, gave everyone as much time as they needed and answered honestly, candidly, made eye contact and engaged in the conversation.
When the pair finally got to us, Hines and Stacy, who is from Baltimore and a HUGE Ravens fan and even used to be a team cheerleader, shared a hug; to which Clooney responded, “did we just see Pittsburgh and Baltimore hugging? hmmm!” It was a pretty funny moment. And despite Keibler saying more than once that she was from Baltimore and used to be a cheerleader, Hines asked her if she rooted for Pittsburgh when they play the Ravens. Very awkward and hilarious and by far a highlite of the night.
Of course, we were about 30 seconds away from getting Brad Pitt, who was doing his best to make the rounds as security was telling him to go inside because the show was starting. Someone told me on the carpet that Brad and Angelina Jolie show up late to events and then wait for security to call them inside so they can play the “oh look at us, we really want to talk to you but they’re telling us we can’t” card. Makes sense. If I were them, I’d probably do the same thing. Then again, I’d be two people, which would present a whole other set of problems.
After Brad did his quick interview with Frazier, he waved to us and then went inside and the show presumably started on time. We had to wait a minute before security said everyone could break down their stations and when we could, Hines and I taped a quick close to the show. I thanked everyone who joined Rich at the Combine, and Hines and I bantered about the afternoon, the experience and our hope to return next year.
To actually close the show, my plan was to run a 40-yard dash on the Red Carpet in my tux and Chuck Taylors, but I nixed it pretty quickly judging by the amount of security and commotion still going on around us. And, while the carpet was definitely long enough, there probably wasn’t enough room to run a straight line; a zig-zagging 40 wouldn’t have accurately measured my speed, and if I’ve learned anything from Rich, I didn’t want an inaccurate 40 time. Plus, Hines had to get out of there and back to Las Vegas for Jerome Bettis’ birthday party, so we were pressed for time.
In the end, I was ecstatic with how everything turned out, especially considering the timeline of what we just pulled off; from a blurted out idea behind the scenes to being out on the Red Carpet in a tux with a Super Bowl MVP recapping our interviews with some of the biggest film stars on the planet; sure, put a big line through that on the ole’ Bucket List.
- Chris Brockman (photos on red carpet by CB)
10:36 pm • 13 March 2012 • 2 notes
Peyton Manning: Now What?
LOS ANGELES — Peyton Manning, who was released from the Colts after 14 seasons Wednesday, was the first football player I truly admired. Sure, I loved Joe Montana as a kid; who didn’t? He was smooth, won a LOT and played for those flashy 49ers teams, but there was something about Manning that I wanted to be myself. I think it had a lot to do with when I started liking him.
Montana was my hero when the extent of my football was watching it on TV and then slinging the ball in the back yard with the other kids of the Coast Guard families who lived in our government housing complex. And boy could I sling it. For Manning, his years at Tennessee coincided with me learning how to actually play the game on an organized level in high school. See, I, too played quarterback. Watched film. Broke down defenses. Commanded a huddle. While I did so with celebrated mediocrity, Manning was at the apex of a college career that saw him finish a Heisman Trophy runner-up.
A quick story before I get to my thoughts on Manning, his career and his future.
Before my senior year, I wrote Manning a letter. Surely an unusual thing to do; send a 21-year old college student what was essentially fan mail, but it wasn’t entirely that. I wanted to pick his brain. I wanted to know what his favorite plays were, how he worked out and got ready for a big game, and so on. I was going to be my high school football team’s starting quarterback for the first time and was looking for any edge I could get on my competition throughout Southern Maine. Why not ask the nation’s best signal caller?
Not sure I’d ever hear back - I used to do this as a kid, too; write professional athletes a standard “I’m your biggest fan, please sign my sports card!” letter, and then play the waiting game to see if any would respond. Roughly 50 did and I have a nice autograph card collection in a box somewhere at my mom’s house - you can imagine my surprise when, a couple months later, a big envelope from the Tennessee Athletic Dept. arrived in my mailbox.
I hurried upstairs to open it, my thoughts racing: “did he actually respond?!” “I wonder what his favorite plays are?!” “Would my coaches even believe this is real?!” and when I did, the only thing inside was an 8x10 photo of Manning ready to deliver what surely was a rocket throw to a Volunteer receiver. However, and this is what made the photo unique, it was autographed and even personalized: “To Chris: Peyton Manning” it said.
Seventeen-year-old me couldn’t have been more thrilled and proud of something so simple. Manning, a rock star in Tennessee - how many early teenagers are there named Peyton floating around The Volunteer State today? 1,000? 2? - actually took the time out of his training and classwork to respond to my letter. Maybe not in the way I had hoped, but really, this was just as good. I immediately found a frame for it and up it hung on my bedroom wall. It’s still there now, in fact.
Of course, he went on to be the top overall pick in the 1998 Draft by the Colts and was nothing short of the greatest player in the NFL during his peak, winning four MVPs and a Super Bowl. And even as I grew into a quasi-Patriots fan to go along with my family’s Steelers roots, I could never cheer against him when he played against those teams. I always wanted him to do well, and then for the Colts to lose. Indianapolis also had a few Syracuse players on its team over the years (Dwight Freeney, Marvin Harrison, James Mungro), and that, too, was enough of a reason for me to stay tuned in to their on goings.
But Manning has always been the guy for me. Which is why, after a reported four neck surgeries, and a surefire Hall Of Fame career, I think he should retire. More on that in a second.
First, let me throw this out there: Peyton Manning’s NFL career is a little overrated. There’s no denying his prowess commanding an offense and his understanding the complexities of the NFL between the lines, that will never be questioned. What he does at the line of scrimmage and pre-snap will never be disputed or duplicated. However, to think about all the talent he played with offensively - Marshall Faulk, Edgerrin James, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark - and how he was a 4-time MVP and all the records and stats, that he only managed to reach the Super Bowl twice, winning one; that shakes me a little bit. I certainly don’t consider him the greatest quarterback of all time - or the 8th greatest player according to the NFL Films Top 100 list that came out in 2010 - and I don’t consider him a better player or more valuable than Tom Brady, who has played in the final game five times and done so with considerably less talent around him.
For me, Manning’s on the level of Brett Favre - extremely talented and gifted player, stats upon stats - and slightly above Dan Marino - also a crazy stats guy. Which is, of course to say, he’s pretty darn good; no doubt in the pantheon of great QBs. Just not on Mount Rushmore, that’s all.
Manning is a coach on the field and has intangibles for days, but winning trumps all. you play to win the game. It’s why Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw and Brady and Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach are at the top of the class, and Manning, given all his stats and recognition, will be sitting in the back.
Now, it’s true, I think Manning should retire. I’m not a doctor and won’t even play one in this column, but if I had four neck surgeries and my occupation was one where every time I went to do my job someone was literally trying to be my personal guillotine, AND I’ve already made nearly $150 million playing and countless more in endorsements, I would gladly accept any of the network gigs that await. What more does he have to prove?
Now, his little brother, whom everyone said was never going to be as good as he was, just won his 2nd Super Bowl in four years. Yeah, that’s motivation, especially after being one pick-six away from having a second title of your own. Another big payday? Yup, that too, would get me back on that field. More time in the limelight? Personally highjacking the offseason and NFL Draft talk? Certainly a possibility. I’m not going to pretend to think that Manning doesn’t have a massive ego; everyone who’s reached the level of fame he has you’d assume has one. But how much is too much? Fourteen seasons is a long time and nearly three times the average NFL career. But Manning has proven he’s not the average player. Far from it. But what exactly is quality of life worth? He has a wife and twins, and I’m guessing he’d like to be able to play with them and his grandchildren at some point in the future.
Every professional athlete seemingly hangs on too long. The examples are countless, but sticking with just the NFL, who wants to remember Joe Namath with the Rams, Emmitt Smith with the Cardinals, Reggie White with the Panthers, Jerry Rice with the Broncos and on and on. The decision is ultimately theirs, and legacy is something that’s determined at the peak of ones careers. But how weird is it going to be if Manning comes back this coming season with the Dolphins or Redskins or Cardinals or Titans or Jets. Probably about as bizarre as seeing Favre don the Vikings purple, right? Seeing No. 18 not in the blue and white is going to about as eerie as getting the email in my work inbox today about the team officially releasing him. It just won’t feel right for a few weeks.
No matter what he decides, for me, it’s always been about Manning’s health. There’s no point in coming back just to come back.
I should write him a letter about that.
- Chris Brockman
1:20 am • 8 March 2012
THE CROSSOVER - EPISODE XXII
LOS ANGELES — Six months is a long time for a vacation. My roommate has been known to take six weeks off between jobs, but six months, that’s just irresponsible when it comes to being the host and publisher of a podcast such as this. So please, accept my apologies and know that I’ll never take a hiatus like that again. (click above arrow to listen .. or here)
In my return episode, Parker Deay (@ParkerDeay) stops by to finally gloat about winning his 2nd Retired Orangemen Fantasy Football League championship - he beat me in the finals. We discus the season that was in the ROFFL this past year, hit on how we thought the NFL season ended and how much we’re looking forward to what is surely to be a wild offseason; from what will happen to Peyton Manning and what to make of Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.
Our conversation skills are not just limited to the pigskin, as we talk about the upcoming MLB season (get ready for a shocker: he likes the Phillies to win it all), if Tiger Woods can regain his mojo has another PGA Tour season begins, Syracuse basketball, the Los Angeles hoops scene and even Twitter. Yes, Parker Deay has joined the Twitter Revolution.
It’s an outstanding conversation, so hopefully you all enjoy listening as much as I had doing it. Thanks again, and as always, spread the word!
- Chris Brockman
5:44 pm • 2 March 2012
SO THIS HAPPENED YESTERDAY
LOS ANGELES — February 23, 2012 will go down as one of the more interesting days I’ve had in a while. It started with a 3:30am News shift here at NFL Network and me innocently responding to a Tweet from Darren Rovell saying something about Spike Lee. Well that turned into the renowned film maker and New York Knicks fan responding by calling me a “F*ckin Moron.” All of that was proceeded by me rolling down to Hollywood and Highland to pick up my press credential for the 84th Academy Awards this Sunday, and then ended with the good folks at JerseyChaser.com blowing me up with a posting about the Spike beef. So, yeah, all in all, it’s been less than a dull week.
Oh, right, did I mention I’ll be on the Red Carpet at the Oscars this Sunday with Super Bowl MVP and Dancing With The Stars champion Hines Ward interviewing the biggest celebs in the film industry for The Rich Eisen Podcast? No? Well be sure to check that out coming next Thursday at 5pmET on NFL Network. And if you happen to watch E! or some other red carpet show this weekend, be on the look out for two HANDSOME bald men in tuxedos straight taking over. Rest assured I’ll be live-Tweeting all the action (@chris_brockman) so stop in and enjoy the ride.
- Chris Brockman
7:00 am • 24 February 2012 • 2 notes
BEHIND THE SCENES
A lot of people ask me what goes into turning a podcast into a television show. So, for those curious, and thanks to the folks at Vidify, here’s a behind the scenes look on a typical day of taping for The Rich Eisen Podcast. Enjoy!
And check out this week’s episode on NFL Network this Thursday at 4:30pm ET featuring Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff, coach of Manassas High in the Oscar-nominated documentary “Undefeated” Bill Courtney, draft guru Charles Davis and former Saints coach and Oscar buff Jim Mora. Thanks for watching and spread the word.
- Chris Brockman
8:29 pm • 21 February 2012
Save Legacy Debate For Later
LOS ANGELES — The funny thing about legacies, no matter the field, is that a conclusion usually is drawn - favorable or unsavory - before a career is complete, and often by those who don’t have any business debating such a topic in the first place.
In athletics, any player I’ve heard talk about their own legacy usually brushes off the question, saying it’s a fabricated media debate, and they’re right. What someone’s ultimate legacy is or isn’t fuels talk radio, internet columns and shouting network shows. Truthfully, a player or coach’s legacy means very little. Their numbers and impact on the game is enough (but isn’t that their legacy, you ask? Good question, I’ll say no.) Take Michael Jordan; some think less of No. 23 for playing those final two years with the Wizards. They say it “tarnished his legacy” and his perfect career-ending play and game with the Bulls in 1998, but Jordan doesn’t care. He’s a Hall of Famer and arguably the NBA’s G.O.A.T. Besides, his legacy was cemented following the first 3-Peat, everything that came after only added to his legend.
Those same fools say Dan Marino’s legacy is incomplete without a Super Bowl ring, same for Charles Barkley and Ted Williams. And debates will rage about Tiger Woods and his sex scandal, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds post-steroids, and Kobe Bryant for being, well, an asshole, too.
Show me a superstar athlete and I’ll show you some talking head who’ll find blemishes in their legacy. That’s just the way it goes now. How does Athlete X get past it, work their way through the chatter? By not caring. Only Bryant probably really cares what his legacy is, which is why he still kills himself with early-morning workouts and delivering dagger stares at incompetent teammates in meaningless regular season games.
If you pay any attention to the NFL, you’ve heard the debate in the last few days about how the result of Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVI as affected the legacy of Eli Manning, Tom Brady, Tom Coughlin and Bill Belichick (let’s be real, those four are the only ones who matter for historical purposes).
The Giants’ 21-17 win, which was easier predicted than their triumph over New England in 2008, did affect those Giants players legacies by opening up the Hall of Fame debate (far too early for that, by the way), but for Brady and Belichick, theirs remains unchanged. The achievement of Super Bowl runner-up is nothing to shake a stick at. There are 30 other NFL teams who’d gladly trade places with the Patriots, who lost the big game for the third time as an organization.
I’ve had a few days to consider what a second Giants victory over the Patriots means for the chief players involved and my conclusion is that it means very little to Brady/Belichick historically except that instead of having five Super Bowl titles, or even four, they still have three, which is more than any player/coach combo in history except Terry Bradshaw and Chuck Noll - Joe Montana and Bill Walsh also have three. Brady/Belichick have now been to five Super Bowls. Period. With wins in the first three the bar and expectations were much too high, they could only go down. As was said this week, they’re already Hall of Famers but a win would’ve taken them to the elite of the Hall of Fame, which a debate could be made they already are. Sure, a 5-0 Super Bowl record looks better than 3-2, and there’s no guarantee they’ll be back, but the loss will serve as motivation. That’s what losses do.
That Brady is taking any kind of heat for his performance in the game is ludicrous. Did he have his best game, obviously not, but had the Patriots had won he’d have a third MVP trophy. He underthrew the mad dancer, Rob Gronkowski on the 4th quarter interception, and the safety is inexcusable, but so is making that call in that situation. As Troy Aikman pointed on on Rich Eisen’s podcast earlier this week, Jordan Rules should be in play for games like this. Also, it’s worth pointing out emphatically that Brady was making his fifth Super Bowl start in 11 full seasons (not counting the 8 minutes he played in 2008). That’s insane. Only John Elway has quarterbacked in five Super Bowls. That’s the list. Elway and Brady.
I saw an interesting Tweet on Thursday which said the result of all this unfair ripping of the Patriots is the next time they’re in the Super Bowl (if there is a next time), America will root for them. Which wasn’t the case in either game against the Giants. We’ll see if that comes true; next year’s Super Bowl is in New Orleans and in 2014, the New Meadowlands, though Super Bowl losers have a poor history of making the playoffs the following year. The 2008 Patriots finished 11-5 but were home for the tournament.
For Manning and Coughlin the legacy conversation is a little different. The list of quarterbacks with one Super Bowl title is lengthy, but two gets you into the Velvet Room of Awesome; Bart Starr, Roger Staubach, Bob Griese, Jim Plunkett, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, Troy Aikman, Tom Brady and now Manning. That’s the guest list.
What Manning has done with his two Super Bowl titles and MVPs is open his discussion as a potential Hall of Famer (not to Kurt Warner, who, by the way, has one less ring now than Manning). Yes, it’s very early for such discussion, considering less than a year ago he wasn’t even included on the Top 100: Players of 2011 list, which was voted on by his peers. But what’s he’s done is shown that he’s as clutch a 4th quarter player as there is in the NFL right now. And there’s something said for being a closer. Amazing what one season can do; remember Manning led the NFL in interceptions in 2010 with 25.
My problem with Manning isn’t he doesn’t really look the part. At least not to the extent of Brady or Aaron Rodgers or even some of others with VIP access to the Velvet Room of Awesome. Manning always has that “aw shucks” disposition to go with his dopey hair and slouched shoulders. I guess I want my quarterback to look like the bad guy in a movie who you’re secretly pulling for. The guy who always has one last bullet in the holster, and even if he doesn’t, you think he does because you’re scared of him. But I’ll give Manning this: I’m scared of him, that’s a fact, and can’t say that about every quarterback in the NFL right now.
Coughlin is arguably the hardest ass coach in the league and that’s saying something. He lives his life by the military code “if you’re five minutes early you’re five minutes late” which obviously rubs a lot of his players the wrong way, but you have to give him this: his players absolutely, 100% play for him. They may not always play well or smart but they play when it counts. It’s been the Giants’ M.O. in recent years to ride the roller coaster of suckdom, find away to make the playoffs and then shock everyone en route to a deep run. The year they did win the division - 2008 - the G-Men were one-and-done in the playoffs.
And that’s where the Coughlin Hall of Fame talk gets cloudy for me. How can a coach be Hall of Fame worthy but have so many mediocre stretches? Yes, he now has the same number of Super Bowl titles as “the great” Bill Parcells (who was denied Hall entry this year) but he has 30 less wins (172-142) and is 28 games over .500 while Parcells is 42. So, clearly, he’s not on that level, yet. If he stays a few more years, racks up more wins, maybe improves his playoff win percentage, then he becomes a more compelling case for me.
Until the dust has started to accumulate on these guys let’s wait before making outlandish declarations, regardless of their eventual validity.
3:54 pm • 10 February 2012
2011 NFL Burning Answers
LOS ANGELES — Seventeen Sundays have come and gone and the 46th Modern Day National Football League season is over. The next three heart-pounding, grit-filled playoff weeks will leave us with just two teams standing, set to do battle in Indianapolis for the Super Bowl and the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Back in September, just before the year got underway, I posed 46 Burning Questions for this year’s NFL season; now, 17 weeks later, I give you The Answers.
1.) Is Bill Belichick the greatest coach of all-time? The Patriots still haven’t won a playoff game since 2007 but a 13-3 finish this year and ANOTHER No. 1 seed and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs doesn’t hurt the ole’ resume.
2.) How good will the Texans defense be? Turns out Wade was the answer in Houston, as the Texans finished 2011 2nd in Total Defense. Their much maligned pass defense was 3rd best and 4th against the run. Mario Williams suffered a season-ending injury in Week 5 but already had five sacks when he went down.
3.) Who with the Broncos has it in for Tim Tebow? So much has been written about Mr. Tebow since he assumed the starting role in Denver in Week 7 I won’t add to it but to say this: someone STILL has it in for him, mark my word. Oh, and he won six games in a row and won the division. That is all.
4.) Is Chris Johnson really worth a 1,625% raise? This season it took until Week 10 for CJ to get his 2nd 100-yard game. In 2010, he achieved that in Week 3 (he didn’t get his 1st 100-yard game of 2011 until Week 4). So, yeah, not really worth the enormous raise he received. Just don’t ask Matt Forte how he’s feeling right about now.
5.) Really, the Falcons to the Super Bowl? OK, so I’ll admit I was on the Falcons train, took Matt Ryan in my fantasy league and thought they’d take it to the next level. And they’re the 6th seed. Time to reassess.
6.) Do the Jets have enough to back up the talk (again)? Nope.
7.) Does Jimmy Clausen + Cam Newton = Andrew Luck? 4,051, 21 TD, 17 INT, 706 rush yards, 14 TD. So yeah, Cam Newton is pretty good.
8.) Kudos for keeping this joke going, Carson Palmer; now when are you coming back? Turns out I had the right geographical location, just wrong side of the Bay. Carson was finally traded, to the Raiders no less, just before Week 7 and went 4-5 and will watching the playoffs the same place I will: the couch.
9.) What will become of Donovan McNabb’s legacy? It pains me to write this one, but I knew it when I posed the question McNabb was basically at the end. Now, it’s a done deal. He wasn’t terrible for the Vikings but when with a 1st Round draft pick waiting in the wings, No. 5’s end was going to happen sooner rather than later.
10.) Why exactly did Sidney Rice sign with the Seahawks? Rice played in only nine games, had just 32 receptions and finished the year on Injured Reserve. Hopes the checks all cleared.
11.) If Michael Vick is worth $100 million what is Drew Brees worth? Brees broke the 27-year old single-season passing yards record and the mark for completion percentage. AND has a serious case to trump Aaron Rodgers for league MVP. Vick once again failed to complete a full season, playing in just 13 games.
12.) Which rookie QB will have the most immediate success? Gabbert (14 starts), Ponder (10) and Locker (0) saw various amounts of action this season but who was best is still unclear. I’d lean towards Locker at this point.
13.) Is Julio Jones a lock for Offensive Rookie of the Year? Clearly, Cam Newton will have to make room for this trophy on his shelf. However, Jones was impressive when he wasn’t hampered by a hamstring injury, as evident by his 54 catches, 959 yards and 8 TDs. A weapon for Matt Ryan for years to come.
14.) Is Von Miller the next Lawrence Taylor or Vernon Gholston? How’s 11.5 sacks and a Pro Bowl selection and a lock for Defensive Rookie of the Year?
15.) Which team will Bill Cowher be coaching next season? As of Black Monday three head coaching jobs are open (Bucs, Jags, Rams) with several more likely to become available (Chargers, Colts, Dolphins).
16.) What will Gus Johnson’s signature call be this year? Gus did not do NFL games this year. And the world is worse off because of it.
17.) Will the Lions be as good as everyone thinks, finally? I put the Lions 2011 success on the health of Matthew Stafford, and guess what? The 23-year old QB played all 16 games, became the 4th player ever to throw for 5,000 yards and tossed 41 touchdowns and Detroit made the playoffs for the first time since Wayne Fontes roamed the sidelines.
18.) Will Darrelle Revis and Nnamdi Asomugha have more interceptions this year than me? For the 10th straight year, I again recorded zero interceptions, however, Revis (4) and Nnamdi (3) earned their paychecks.
19.) Is HBO’s next show, Fired or Playoffs: the Gary Kubiak Story? So the Texans won the AFC South for the first time despite losing Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and Mario Williams for significant parts of the season. OK, so Peyton Manning missing all of 2011 helped. Considerably.
20.) Is Mark Herzlich the next Zach Thomas? Of course, Herzlich has a long way to go to becoming ZT, but he did play in 11 games this year for the Giants, starting two. Great, great story.
21.) What will prevent the Chargers from reaching the Super Bowl this year? Yup, the Chargers started 4-1 and finished the year 4-1. Oh, right, that six-game losing streak in the middle didn’t help. Neither did Philip Rivers’ 20 picks.
22.) Imagine for a second if the Packers stay healthy; scary, huh? 15-1 and Aaron Rodgers with maybe the best QB season ever. See what I mean?
23.) What superhero will Stevie Johnson turn into this season? Statistically, Johnson was almost just as good this year as last, however it didn’t really seem like it. The penalties and fines for showboating didn’t help him, either.
24.) Is this Alex Smith’s last chance? Smith was called the dreaded “game manager” earlier this season, but I’m sure he’ll take it as the 49ers earned the No. 2 seed in the NFC. Smith threw for 3,150 yards and had 17 TDs to just 5 INTs.
25.) Will Sebastian Janikowski break the FG distance record? This one is probably my favorite, as SeaBass tied the NFL record in Week 1 at Denver.
26.) Is Jamaal Charles the next great all-purpose back? Probably my least favorite, as Charles blew out his knee in Week 2 and missed the whole season.
27.) Which is greater: Eric Berry’s potential or Ed Reed’s career? My second least favorite, as Berry pulled a Charles, or did Charles pull a Berry? Either way, Berry blew out his knee in Week 1 and missed all of 2011, meanwhile, Ed Reed added another Pro Bowl season to his Hall of Fame resume.
28.) Higher total: Jay Cutler passes off his back foot or times sacked? Surprisingly, Cutler was only sacked 23 times in 11 games this season. Though, he did miss the last five games after breaking his thumb – all Bears losses – as Chicago went from playoff contender to on the outside looking in.
29.) Which division winner from 2010 will miss the playoffs? “Top options include Colts, Bears, Seahawks and Chiefs” is what I wrote in September. None made the playoffs.
30.) Will Adrian Peterson truck some literally into next week? Poor Adrian Peterson, who suffered a devastating knee injury in Week 16 and may miss the start of next season. But kudos for posting a hilarious New Year’s Eve picture on Twitter.
31.) Will Brandon Marshall return to his Broncos form with Chad Henne throwing him the ball? So Henne wasn’t exactly the answer for the Dolphins, suffering a season-ended injury in Week 4, but Marshall was very solid this year with Matt Moore. He finished with 81 catches for 1,214 yards and six TDs.
32.) How many years does Ray Lewis have left? Perhaps this season, more than ever, Lewis looked a notch below his usual self. He missed four games with a toe injury but still managed 95 tackles on the year. The Ravens are the No. 2 seed in the AFC and will need him at his best.
33.) If Rob Gronkowski spikes the ball hard enough after a touchdown, will it disintegrate? Thought I was the only one who caught on to Gronkowski’s killer post-touchdown spikes. Turns out someone started a website in vain of Tebowing for the Patriots’ beast tight end. Gronking. Eat your heart out.
34.) If Eli Manning throws 25 INTs again will Mayor Bloomberg send him to jail for 20 months? Eli’s interceptions were down, only 16 this year, and he led the Giants to an NFC East division crown but a four-game losing streak late in the year didn’t calm anyone’s nerves. Still, he’s not in the Brady/Rodgers/Brees class.
35.) Should Troy Polamalu cut his hair does the Steelers defense suddenly become human? Polamalu played a full season in 2011 but had just two interceptions and the Steelers defense wasn’t the same menacing bunch as in years past. Could it be the league crackdown on illegal hits got to the Curtain or are they just a little older?
36.) If the Patriots fail to win a playoff game, does the mystique take a hit? They’ve done it again, the Patriots will host a playoff game in the Division round against possibly the Bengals or Broncos. Yeah, I have no idea either.
37.) Will someone finally punt one off the jumbotron at Cowboys Stadium? Still at zero punts off the jumbotron. Kickers are useless.
38.) Will Peyton Manning become a head coach someday? I think we all need to start wrapping our head around the idea that Peyton Manning may never play again. Not that I didn’t say this months ago. (oh wait, I did.)
39.) How many would-be tacklers will Peyton Hillis and LaGarrette Blount leap over this season? Well the Madden Curse struck again, taking down Hillis after his breakout 2010 campaign, while Blount got off to a cold start he did manage at least four leaps, by my count.
40.) If Larry Fitzgerald played with one hand tied behind his back for the whole season, would he still catch 100 passes? How many times a day do you think Fitz texted Kurt Warner begging him to come back? 50?
41.) Why doesn’t Steven Jackson have a cooler nickname? No nickname, and after a 2-14 season, he’s hoping for a new zip code.
42.) Does Mike Shanahan really know what he’s doing in Washington? Yes, the Redskins at one point this season led the NFC East. Yes, they also finished the year 5-11. And yes, they still employ Rex Grossman and John Beck as quarterbacks.
43.) Fireman Ed knows he jumped the shark like three years ago, right? Greatest moment of the year: Brandon Jacobs telling Rex Ryan to “shut the f—k up, fat boy.” Second greatest moment of the year: Rex Ryan’s postgame press conference where he said the Jets can still win the Super Bowl. Yup, on Madden, maybe. You are what your record is.
44.) Assuming Jason Garrett uses the “good plays” all season, will the Cowboys threaten the scoring record? Ya know, Tony Romo actually had a pretty good year (4,184 yards, 31 TD, 10 INT) so what was the problem? Right, no running game and terrible coaching. Got it.
45.) Will Mike Wallace have the first 4-catch, 240-yard, 4 TD game in NFL history this season? Believe it or not, Julio Jones came close with a 3-catch, 131-yard game against the Colts. Wallace’s best: 3-catches, 118 yards in Week 7.
46.) How will Brett Favre steal headlines this season? Aside from his one interview where he said he was surprised it took Aaron Rodgers this long to win a Super Bowl, and those awkward Wrangler Jeans ads, Favre has stayed out of the NFL headlines this season. As it should be.
2:23 pm • 5 January 2012 • 5 notes
The Daily Bellow — Nov. 2
LOS ANGELES — Our good and always reliable friends at Wikipedia tell us Halloween began in roughly 1556 as a Scottish celebration of All Hallow’s Eve; basically, an end-of-summer party and preparation of the upcoming frigid winter months. I have no choice but to buy that. For me, though, Halloween has always been about little kids wearing cute costumes and walking around their neighborhood competing with their friends to see who can come home with the most candy. Seriously, how fun was the end of the night when you dumped your bag out on the living room floor and counted and separated everything you got? I stopped dressing up for Halloween when I was maybe 11 and didn’t again before I moved out here. No place does this “holiday” quite like Los Angeles, and with the highest number of creative minds per capita in the world, the costumes and parties are beyond description. I was fortunate to attend two such gatherings over the weekend. At the first, looking to strike while the Tim Tebow iron was hot (of course, this was BEFORE this throw-up job against the Lions on Sunday), I went as the aforementioned Broncos quarterback and struck his signature “Tebowing” pose any chance I could (see here for the visual evidence.) My buddy went as Tebow’s best friend Jesus (obviously.) At the second, I was Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, cut-off sweatshirt and all. Two costumes which I knew would garner reactions from a very specific audience, and boy did they ever. Excuse me while I pat myself on the back. Top costumes included a dozen people dressed as the Smurfs (we’re talking full body paint and tail), Captain Crunch, the 3 Blind Mice, Axl Rose and the bride from the November Rain video, dead Steve Jobs and many others I can’t remember. Good times.
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If I did this to Rich Kiss there is little doubt he would kill me. I mean, straight up murder. I’m not joking. The man declares the season over in Spring Training!
I tweeted this out on Wednesday, but it bares repeating: very cool, a year in New York City.
Because apparently sitcoms say “penis” and “vagina” a lot. Who knew?
All I know is, Dennis Miller said Joe Flacco has “Pelosi eyes” in the pocket and it wasn’t meant as a compliment. She’s just one scary lady.
For better or worse, this is the state of sports television right now.
The Dead Presidents would be so disappointed in this fool.
Please let this be a joke. It would’ve probably been a good fight in 1991 when both were hopping up on steroids.
There is no cooler athlete right now than Kevin Durant. Period.
I’m guessing this marriage is going to have a shelf life in the Kardashian range. Not even I would do this; I think.
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And today’s Twitter fun (don’t forget to follow me: @chris_brockman):
Random Tweet of the Day (so far):
@britdisarmingJust talked to an old man in the coffee shop wearing a fringed suede jacket and carrying a dog named half-pint. Good start to the day.
Friend Tweet of the Day (so far):
@FarbaroNever noticed til today that Tony LaRussa has the same haircut as Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men
Athlete Tweet of the Day (so far):
@DEZ_88Last day being 22.. I’m getting old world lol
Babe Tweet of the Day (so far):
@undeuxOh. I just realized I’m eating ice cream for breakfast. Oops. ;)
— Chris Brockman
(ed. note: posts will be more frequent in the coming weeks, ya just gotta trust me on this.)
11:55 am • 3 November 2011 • 10 notes
The Daily Bellow — Oct. 26
LOS ANGELES — I’ve never been a “car guy;” just never have had it in me. My dad used to spend countless hours in our garage fixing it seemed every nook and cranny on our family fleet; which at one point in time included an old Ford F-250, four Volkswagons, a Mercury Villager, a boat, motorcycle, red Ford Bronco, and probably something else I can’t remember. Sure, I can change my own oil, replace the fluids and fill it with gas, but if something rattles I don’t know what it is or why? My first call is always to my dad and even 3,000 miles away he knows what the matter it is. Here on the West Coast, people love their cars, and since it rains about 10 times a year there’s no rust on them, and no snow means no salt so there’s no corrosion. Whips look like new beyond their years and even the classics stay pristine. I’ll never forget when I first moved here, and remember, I’m coming from Maine; people get excited about a BWM — the first exotic car I saw was a purple Lamborghini pulling into the drive-thru at Burger King on La Brea; seemed like a big deal at the time. Later, when my sister was still visiting that first week and we walked Rodeo drive and saw a yellow Rolls Royce and a fire red Ferrari; it was pretty neat to say the least. There was only ever one Bentley cruising around Old Orchard Beach, here they give them out at the border. The bottom line, people here love their cars; they’ll put rims and limo tint windows on anything. Throughout much research in the last two years, behold, my Top 5Most Popular Cars of LA:
5.) BWM 3-series
4.) crappy flat-bed pickup truck
3.) Mini Cooper
1.) Range Rover
That’s the list. I heard somewhere the average person owns 13 cars in their lifetime, which seems pretty outrageous at first listen but when you break down the math it sort of makes sense. I started driving at nearly 17 and in 14 years have owned three automobiles: ‘89 Volkswagon Golf, ‘93 Toyota pickup and a ‘99 Chevy Tahoe. What’s next? Maybe something bright and fast. Stay tuned.
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I’m not gonna lie to you all, I like David Blaine and find his “stunts” amusing. His latest: swimming with sharks in a tux.
How great would a nation-wide tour of random state fairs? Gotta imagine I’d get a taste of each of these delicious treats.
To all the writers out there, this is pretty good advice.
Why don’t people watch NBC? Sure, its shows aren’t any good, but is there a bigger reason?
Happy Anniversary, Rosa. God Bless you.
C.C. Sabathia, everybody!
Rob Gronkowski should probably stop hanging out with porn stars.
Really? On Lake Erie? I mean, congrats on the nice home, I guess.
Lifelong wrestling fan, but haven’t watched WWE in years. The whole Chris Benoit thing turned me off, but great googly moogly this is a lot of man flying through the air. I’m 50/50 on if the ring collapsing is real, but it was funny to see both Big Show and Mark Henry trending on Twitter last night.
And you thought YOU were good at fantasy sports. Good one.
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And today’s Twitter fun (don’t forget to follow me: @chris_brockman):
Friend Tweet of the Day (so far):
Sunrise (somewhere between Philly and D.C.) instagr.am/p/RStfQ/
Random Tweet of the Day (so far):
@fratproblemsIs feigning a relationship just to have sex with her wrong? If so, I don’t want to be right.
Celeb Tweet of the Day (so far):
@RobRiggleI’m about to “Occupy” this Starbucks for it’s crappy service & attitude!
Athlete Tweet of the Day (so far):
Goodbye London. It was fun.
Babe Tweet of the Day:
@jaimeedmondsonJust a helpful suggestion, take it 4 what it’s worth…when tweeting an unsolicited pic of your hog, flaccid isn’t the way 2 go
2:45 am • 27 October 2011 • 3 notes