Thursday, July 31, 2008

32 Teams in 30-Some Days - Philadelphia Eagles

First of all, before we delve into the Iggles chances this year - I'd like to mention tonight's Edmonton/B.C. game. Yes that's right, the CFL. If you were watching it you probably saw the sequence of plays in question.

I'm talking about the vicious hit that Eskimo receiver Kamau Peterson took in the 3rd quarter. He came across the middle, took a wallop in the mouth, hung onto the ball, popped up and proceeded to reveal Jason Tucker's number 83 under his jersey. It was absolutely electric. The next play from scrimmage was an Edmonton touchdown pass.

The Eskimo's were dead in the water before that Peterson catch. There hasn't been such an obvious momentum-changer since Stalingrad in the winter of '43.

That's one of the things I love most about sports - you just never know when one of those moments is going to come along that just totally turns a game on its head. And it was a great thing to see tonight.

But I digress...


If you choose to you can live your life alone
Some people choose the city
Some others choose the good old family home
I like living easy without family ties
Till the whippoorwill of freedom zapped me
Right between the eyes

Now, I'm not entirely certain what a whippoorwill is (I think it's a high-powered outboard boat motor of some kind), but I'm pretty sure I don't want it zapping me with anything - especially between the eyes. But that's really neither here nor there, as this song really has nothing to do with the Eagles - other than it has Philadelphia in the title. And right now I'm ok with that.

As for things that actually do pertain to the Eagles - I must say I'm pretty intrigued by this team. I willingly admit that I have not looked at the Eagles schedule (it is literally on the other side of my living room, can you blame me?) - but I think they have the potential to be sneaky-good this season. I think they'll catch some teams by surprise.

Donovan McNabb appears to be fully healthy again for the first time in forever two seasons. Brian Westbrook is always one of the most explosive and versatile players on the football field. And the Eagles added human-greased-lightning DeSean Jackson in the draft. I think Jackson weighs less than Mary-Kate Olsen, so he won't be an every down receiver - but he also has the potential to terrify opposing teams on punt returns. I've heard that he runs so fast he can almost achieve lift-off.*

*May not actually be true.

On defence, the Eagles should again be solid - as they generally have been in recent years. The additions of Asante Samuel and Chris Clemons will just make them that much better. I always like watching the Eagles defence because they blitz more than the Germans in '40 and '41 (if you're scoring at home, that's a solid two WWII references so far).

The Verdict
The Eagles absolutely have all the tools to compete in the NFC - the big question for them is going to be health. While not ancient, their offensive is aging - and bodies tend to break down much easier when that happens. But it's Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook Philly should be worried about. If either of those two go down for extended periods the Eagles are finished. I don't think McNabb has finished a season since Doogie Howser was still in the closet - actually that wasn't that long ago, but it's late and I was struggling for a reference. Likewise, Westbrook seems to get nicked up every season but so far has been lucky avoiding major injuries. The Eagles will need a clean bill of health to compete - but if healthy they have the potential to compete for a playoff spot.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

32 Teams in 30-Some Days

First of all, let me start by saying this – during a potential tornado situation you do not want to be on the top floor of an 11-story office building, which also happens to be the tallest building in a 5 block radius. Trust me.

Nevertheless, the Sports As Life World Headquarters is still standing and we’re here to bring you the second team in our 32 Teams in 30-Some Days feature.


You think people will still use napkins in the year 2000?
Or is this whole mouth-vacuum thing for real?

- Cosmo Kramer

You know that bad feeling I said I had about the Dallas Cowboys? Well, I have the exact opposite feeling about the New York Giants.

That’s ‘Defending Super Bowl Champion’ New York Giants to you. Still hard to believe. It seems like only yesterday the Giants stopped the most destructive force the world has seen since the Natural Disasters – and after the game I ended up doing a dance that looked something like this:

Even though the Giants shocked the world in February, they are still getting almost no respect. And I think that is going to help them avoid the Super Bowl Hangover.

There are questions about whether Eli Manning is actually a Super Bowl MVP quarterback or whether he just got hot at the right time last season. Actually, that pretty much sums up the questions about the whole Giants team.

As near as I can figure, all this adds up to the Giants having a pretty big chip on their shoulder. While most people expect the Cowboys to be great - almost no one expects the Giants to be where they were last season.

Motivation anyone?

However, the Giants did lose Michael Strahan and a couple other starters on defence. But the good news is that they should still have the talent to be the force they were in last season's playoffs. And as near as I can tell, the offence remains mostly intact.

The Verdict
Maybe it's just my lingering joy over the Giants beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl - but I believe in this team. And I honestly think they can again be the dominant team they were in the Super Bowl. That said, I don't think they'll repeat but they do have as good a chance as anyone to represent the NFC in the big game. They will win the NFC East though.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A News Release From the Sports As Life Major Projects Division


Dear Valued Reader:

Sports As Life is pleased to announce its most ambitious project to date. Starting today, the Sports As Life 2008 NFL Preview will begin. Last year's epic-length previews were a rousing success not hated - as a result, this year the project has been expanded. So I am pleased to bring to you:

32 Teams in 30-Some Days

Ideally, I would do 32 teams in 32 days. However, I don't like tying myself down with constricting deadlines - so let's just say 30-some days. Definately before the start of the season anyway.

We'll start with the NFC, shall we? How about the East?


Hey baby, I see you looking over here baby
Are you gonna keep looking - or get up?
And talk to me
Here's an opportunity that don't want to miss tonight
-A Public Affair by Jessica Simpson

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that I've never felt as bad about the existence of the Internet as I did while looking up all this Jessica Simpson-related material. However, I think the lyrics apply to the Cowboys in a roundabout way.

This year is the opportunity the Cowboys don't want to miss (tonight). They might be the most talented team in the NFC and are probably many people's prohibitive favorite to at least get into the Super Bowl.

And I will agree they are talented and are going to be fun to watch- with Tony Romo, Marion Barber, Terrell Owens, Jason Witten, DeMarcus Ware and Roy Williams, et. al. Plus the Cowboys added Adam Pacman Jones and Zack Thomas in the offseason. And Felix Jones and Mike Jenkins in the draft. In addition to their new blood, the Cowboys are returning 21 starters.

That talent does seem to add up to a team that can win the Super Bowl. But I think it's going to add up to something else:

This team has more baggage issues than Air Canada... ooohhh, topical.

Terrell Owens is a borderline sociopath at the best of times. Add to the mix, gentlemen's club afficianado Adam Jones and don't forget gun enthusiast Tank Johnson. Then there's Tony Romo's on-again-off-again involvement with the Simpson cult family. Plus draft pick Mike Jenkins already has one arrest under his belt.

This is going to be the Greatest (Side)Show on Turf - settle down, that's the first of many bad puns this season so you better just get used to it.

Are we really to believe that the iron fist needed to keep this travelling freakshow together belongs to Wade Phillips? Colour me skeptical but I don't know if I buy it.

The Verdict
Teams are going to be gunning for the Cowboys. That plus their questionable character adds up to a disappointing season as far as I'm concerned. I think they're going to be hard pressed to get to 10 wins - probably 8-8 or 9-7. And that's a disappointment as far as the Cowboys are concerned.

If that happens, Jerry Jones' facelifts are going to come unglued and he'll resemble something like this:

Friday, July 18, 2008

Know How I Know You're A Nerd?

You took part of the afternoon off to go see The Dark Knight...

And you went to see it by yourself.

Commence the laughing and fingerpointing.

And here... we... go!

Monday, July 14, 2008

BOOOOOOOOO.... (deep breath)... BOOOOOOOOOOOO... (deep breath)...

We open on a typical CFL crowd - let's say, oh, in Hamilton - booing loudly after a crucial call has gone against them.

One knowledgeable patron courteously informs those sitting around him that the call on the field made by the referees was, in fact, correct and they have no reason to be upset.

Word spreads quickly around the stadium that the decision on the field was the correct one and the fans return to their seats and give the officials a smattering of polite applause for their correct interpretation of the rules at a critical point in the game.

Ok, let's snap back to reality for a second if we could, after that little story that had more fantasy than Mariah Carey.

Most of the commentary I've been reading following Saturday's Saskatchewan/Hamilton game has been along the lines of "Oh those ignorant Hamilton fans, they were booing even though the refs got it right !!!11!!1!!!"

Maybe it's just me and my un-Canadian views on football but I guarantee the reaction to the deciding call in Saturday's game would have been the exact same in any CFL city. If not worse.

If that game had been in Taylor Field and James Johnson ran down Jessee Lumsden (hey - it's just a thought experiment, never mind the fact that it could never possibly happen) with the same outcome that we saw on Saturday, are we really to believe the intelligista that comprises the crowd in Regina would have accepted the decision of the officials with quiet resignation?


That's not to say the crowds in Regina are any more or less intelligent and full-throated than in any other CFL city. But, you better believe that Taylor Field would have been shaken to its core if the situation was reversed.

And how do we even know what the fans in Hamilton were booing about? They could have all been perfectly aware that the correct call was made - and they were booing the stupidity of the rule itself. Because let's be honest, that is the dumbest rule I have ever heard of. Even worse than no-yards, and no-yards is dumber than... than... insert reference to something dumb here (I went to the well and the bucket came up empty).

Moreover, since when did fans (of any sport) need a valid reason to express their displeasure with anything - especially officiating? Fans in Regina berate local radio personalities standing on the sidelines at football games because they "suck" (which they do, by the way). That's what is so great about being a sports fan - it requires very little logic. It can be a very nice escape from everyday life.

For example, I have a seething, white-hot hatred for the New England Patriots - and I really don't have a good reason for this. They have never beaten "my" team in a meaningful game (that would require "my" team playing in a meaningful game - no playoff wins in 15 years baby!) and they've never personally wronged me in any way. Mostly I just hate them because they're too good (Sure they're cheaters and steroid abusers, but I hated them long before that).

Now, hating something because it's too good does not make a whole lot of sense to me. I wouldn't hate a book, a CD or a plate of pasta because it's too good - but that doesn't stop me from doing it when it comes to sports. Rest assured if I ever see Tom Brady on the street I will endeavour to boo him until he cries like a school girl with a skinned knee.

What's my point in all of this?

I have no idea. I started out wanting to write about Hamilton fans being upset at the perception that their team got jobbed - and the reaction to it. But somewhere along the way I wandered off the path a bit. I suppose if I had to sum up, I'd say that booing officiating is perfectly acceptable regardless of the situation - if they didn't want to be booed they shouldn't be wearing the stupid zebra costumes. I just think it's pretty ridiculous for one fan base or the media to criticize another fan base for "ignorant" booing.

Except those American hockey fans, they don't know what the hell they're booing about.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

You Look Like I Need A Drink - Redux

Clearly I should have saved this title for the post about Friday night's CFL games, instead of wasting it on Thursday's games.

The Montreal/Winnipeg and B.C/Saskatchewan games displayed in vibrant HD everything I can't stand about the CFL - boring, sloppy football. I don't care what the final scores were in those games, you can't tell me there was anything exciting about either of them.

I'll focus on the B.C./Saskatchewan game, as that's the one I'm more familiar with, and that's not saying much - having listened to it like a shut-in during the 30's listening to War of the Worlds. But in the spirit of full disclosure, I did watch the last couple of minutes in moving pictures. And the Montreal/Winnipeg game was a blowout not worth mentioning anyway.

First for B.C. - Jarious Jackson should be playing high school football somewhere, not CFL football. You just know that somewhere Spurgeon Wynn was watching game at home thinking, "I could have done that!" I will admit that Jackson throws a great ball - the only problem being that it's usually not to anybody, at least not to anybody on his team. Terrible.

And for Saskatchewan, the big story will be injuries. Two broken legs, a pulled hamstring and more than a few cases of Pilsner-stomach, I'm sure.

Although the story should be that I was only 4 points off in predicting the final score, which was 26 - 16. My prediction was 23-17. Oh well, whattayougonnado?

But I think my favorite part of the game was the post-game reaction in which people were commending Damien Durant for his "good" game. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't he 4-11 or 4-12 passing? In no way, shape or form does a 25% completion percentage constitute a good game. The only thing Durant did successfully was hand the ball off to Wes Cates (as Trebor stated in the comments on the previous post). The plane might actually be crashing into the mountain after all.

I hate to be a naysayer about the CFL all the time (ahh, who am I kidding - no I don't) but I don't think anybody can say they enjoyed the games on Friday night.

And what can I say, sometimes old habits are just hard to break. Isn't that right, doctor?

Only 3 weeks until NFL training camps, only 3 weeks until NFL training camps.

Friday, July 4, 2008

You Look Like I Need A Drink

As I sat down to watch some 3-down football last night, I thought this title would be appropriate for a post about me struggling to watch CFL football - but what can I say, sometimes I'm wrong.

Last night's games were highly entertaining.

First was the Toronto/Hamilton game, which I watched the first 7/8ths of. One of the two things I got from this game is that Jesse Lumsden is the most talented athlete in the league - hands down. It's criminal for him to touch the ball less than 20-25 times a game. If he stays healthy this year Hamilton has a good chance to not be horrible.

The second thing I got from the game is that Toronto coach Rich Stubler is not going to last the season. There's just no way. The team is almost is open revolt already. The quarterbacks are squabbling and the idiot kicker doesn't even have goal posts to practice on. His quarterback-swapping by "feel" is one of the most ludicrous things I've ever heard of. Shouldn't the quarterback, of all people, be the one guy you want to be confident in himself? As far as I can tell, a coach with the propensity to pull quarterbacks like he's starting a lawnmower is not going to instill confidence in QB's who are always looking over their shoulders.

The Stubler death-watch starts now. If he sees September, I'll be surprised.

The other game last night was Edmonton/Calgary, which I managed to catch the last 7/8ths of. And if you only watched an 1/8th of that game, the last 1/8th was one to see.

I turned it on with Edmonton up 3 (I think) with about 2 minutes to play - and the proceeded to demonstrate exactly how not to run out the clock. They went pass, sack, punt - to give the ball immediately back to Calgary, who promptly marched down the field and scored a touchdown to go up 4 with a minute and a half left.

When Calgary scored I bet that French kid who coaches Edmonton felt about like this:

However, improbable as it may seem, Edmonton was able to march right back down the field themselves and score the winning touchdown. It was quite a score as well - click here to watch the clip - with Jason Tucker making about 4 different adjustments while the ball was in the air. It was also a thing of beauty because Rod Black almost had an on-air stroke when Tucker caught the ball.

Also, does anyone else think Ricky Ray might have the mumps? I think someone should tell him to get checked out. Or at least get him to take the cotton balls out of his cheeks.

And of course tonight Saskatchewan plays in B.C. If I was forced to venture a guess I'd say Saskatchewan wins 23-17, or something like that.

No, I did not see last week's season opener between the Roughriders and Eskimos, as it was Sports As Life contributor Trebor's wedding. And here for your viewing pleasure is an advance copy of the wedding photo from the happy day*...

*May not be a true statement - but congratulations to them all the same.