NFL Pro Bowl And WWE Royal Rumble Live In A Parallel Universe Sunday Night

DuckPuppy via Flickr
It's been a while since we football fans have been able to dial into some totally mindless television viewing on a Sunday night. Since before the start of football season, to be exact (although there are plenty of people out there who categorize Sunday Night Football as "mindless").

We've spent the last twenty or so Sundays obsessing over an entire day of football and a Sunday night game on NBC. Next Sunday, we will be dissecting the most important game of the entire year in any sport (and the pressure of the balls used in said game!).

So last night was a night of escapism, where we could just unwind watching events where the consequences weren't all that sports-important. And amazingly, the two marquee events Sunday night, WWE's Royal Rumble and the NFL's Pro Bowl, delivered in tandem in shockingly parallel ways.

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Gary Kubiak Is Getting the Band Back Together, Hires Bill Kollar Away From the Texans

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Kubiak's gettin' the old gang back together in Denver.
When Gary Kubiak accepted the offer from the Baltimore Ravens to be their offensive coordinator for the 2014 season (and possibly beyond), in the back of his mind, I'm sure one of the key reasons was to rebuild his coaching image that was left at the bottom of a football well at the end of the Texans' 2-14 finish in 2013.

Kubiak wanted to remind people that, once upon a time, he could cobble together a pretty nice offense, and with the right pieces, he was pretty good at dialing up some football plays that would go for many yards and lots of points.

And guess what? Mission accomplished!

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Five WWE Title Matches That Were Bigger Travesties Than Deflate-Gate

Ring the damn bell!!
Well, now we know. Or we can guess, at least. Despite vehement denials from both to the contrary, it seems to be generally assumed by most of the sorts watching public that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady were both fully aware of, if not the impetus for, the deflation of the Patriots' game balls before the AFC Title Game last Sunday.

Belichick was his usual dismissive, stone cold, poker face as he let the questions bounce off of him like tennis balls against the garage. Brady was considerably more nervous and far less comfortable lying to everyone about breaking the rules. Regardless, the two of them are the biggest teacher/student villain pairing right now since Emperor Palpatine ordered Anakin to murder all those children in Revenge of the Sith.

But honestly, specific to Sunday, what was really accomplished by deflating footballs that wouldn't have otherwise been accomplished within the rules? The Patriots won the game 45-7 over the Colts, and outscored Indy in the second half 28-0, when the balls were presumably re-inflated to regulation pressure.

Belichick and Brady may need more than just a few pounds of relieved air pressure to defeat the Seahawks. If I may, I'd like to point them to our friends in old school WWE (nee WWF) for a few ideas, and a few game changing cheating escapades that were far worse than Deflate-Gate....

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Super Bowl Bye Week: This Weekend's Best Bets

Pro Bowl, Royal Rumble and Miss Universe? Sunday night is officially gonna be nuts.
In radio, when we randomly want to tell you about something coming up on the show later that day or later that week, we will interject with the phrase "programming note" and then convey the message to you.

So consider this paragraph the written version of a "programming note" -- I will be in Phoenix for the Super Bowl all next week doing my radio show from Radio Row, which each year is a cavalcade of really big-name guests, most of whom are NOT there merely for the fun of it. EVERYBODY is pimping something on Radio Row.

My point is that I hope to be able to provide insight and answers to questions being right there in Phoenix that I otherwise would not be able to back here in Houston, like "Is Pete Carroll's hair that fabulous in person?" and "How does Bill Belichick smell?" So there's something to look forward to.

In the meantime, even with no football this weekend, we should keep our betting muscles honed, just to stay ready for Super Bowl weekend if nothing else. So let's look at the board and see what there is to wager on this Sunday...

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Dear CBS, Can You Please Dump Jim Nantz And Phil Simms Already?

Categories: Football, Sports
Dear CBS, please, no more Jim Nantz and Phil Simms on NFL broadcasts.
Early in the first quarter of Sunday's thrashing of the Colts by the Patriots, Tom Brady hit Julian Edelman for a short pass on the left sideline. Edelman was just short of the first down, and a discussion started between the CBS TV crew of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms as to whether there should be a replay challenge of the spot.

This started as an empty, meaningless discussion, as are most discussions involving Nantz and Simms, though it quickly devolved into incomprehensible nonsense as Simms kept talking and talking about the spot of the ball, the dangers of a review and the meaninglessness of the challenge. There was no challenge, the Patriots got a first down on the next play, then scored on the next play after that. As usual, Nantz and Simms added no insight into the touchdown or any play of the drive. There was just a lot of clich├ęd nonsense interrupted just enough for Simms to make an idiot of himself even quicker in the game than usual.

Nantz and Simms are the number one NFL broadcast team for CBS. Theoretically, that means that this team should be among the four best NFL broadcast crews. But the reality is that they're far and away from even being the best tandem on CBS. The fact that CBS still trots them out every Thursday night and Sunday speaks even more about CBS's contempt for its audience than the fact that the network thought 2 Broke Girls was a good idea.

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Bill Belichick Speaks on Deflate-Gate: "I Had No Knowledge Whatsoever"

Bill Belichick pushed all his chips into the middle of the table on Thursday morning.
The standards for punishments established around the sports world over the past several years appear to be very clear. There is a distinct pecking order when it comes to most transgressions -- breaking the rules is bad, but lying about breaking the rules is worse.

We saw it with the Reggie Bush situation at USC a few years back when he lied about illegal benefits that he and his family received. We saw it with Bruce Pearl when he ran afoul of NCAA recruiting rules and lied about it, resulting in his termination by the University of Tennessee.

Granted, both of those were collegiate situations, but I think sports society has generally accepted this new standard. Contrition and acceptance "GREATER THAN" trying to fib your way through wrongdoing.

If indeed that is the case with the NFL as well, that lying and getting caught is worse than the crime itself, then Bill Belichick pushed all his chips into the middle of the table on Thursday morning, denying any knowledge of the noticeable deflation of the Patriots' footballs (11 of their 12 game balls were deflated by two pounds of pressure before the game) in the AFC Title Game on Sunday.

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New England Patriots Deflate-Gate Spawns Cialis Parody Commercial (w/ VIDEO)

Deflate-gate finally gets some comedy...
They say that comedy equals tragedy plus time, and while events like the New England Patriots' opting to (allegedly) deflate footballs before the AFC Championship Game hardly qualify as actual tragedy, people do take their football, and in turn this topic, quite seriously.

So we go through the normal stages as we process the latest Belichick-ian scandal. We first heard rumor that the Pats may have deflated the footballs, and we were incredulous. Then we got confirmation Tuesday night that the balls indeed did have less air at kickoff, and we were angry.

Then all of the conjecture about what may happen to the Patriots and how Belichick might be punished began to bubble up, and we became analytical. But now enough time has passed (yes, 48 hours is plenty of time to process this), and we are officially into the "comedy is acceptable" zone.

Thank God!

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Gary Kubiak Introduced As Broncos Head Coach

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The Denver Broncos made it official on Tuesday afternoon -- Gary Kubiak is back as a head coach in the NFL, taking the reins of a franchise that won two Super Bowls in the late '90s (with Kubiak as part of Mike Shanahan's staff) and is on a streak of four consecutive division titles in the AFC West.

On the grand scale of "failing upward," it's probably not anywhere close to, say, Lane Kiffin, who parlayed getting fired after two seasons with the Raiders into one 7-6 season at the University of Tennessee, and then parlayed that into the USC job. But with a career record of 61-64 as a head coach, and only two playoff wins (both over a team quarterbacked by Andy Dalton, who has no playoff wins), Kubiak has to feel fortunate not only to get a second chance, but to get a second chance with one of the best organizations in football.

Kubiak met with the media on Tuesday, and there were certainly some nuggets to come out of that session, some from Kubiak and some from others, that should have made Texans fans' ears perk up a bit.

Let's examine a few of these...

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NFL Determines Patriots Deflated Footballs Used in AFC Title Win

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Parker Anderson via flickr
Inflated? Deflated?
"Win if you can, lose if you must, but at all times, cheat." -- "Classy" Freddie Blassie

Bill Belichick does not give a rat's ass about the karmic ramifications of right and wrong, whether it means the "Golden Rule" or the actual rules. If it makes his team better, and increases the chances of the Patriots winning, he will do it.

Spying on other teams, stealing signals, borderline formations that push the spirit of the rules, signing LeGarrette Blount to be his starting tailback after he walked out on his teammates in Pittsburgh...

It doesn't matter. There's no nuance with Belichick. If "x" increases the percentage chances of "y" happening (where "y" equals "a Patriots win"), he will do it. So are we all that surprised about this whole "deflated ball" thing in the AFC Title Game?

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My Gary Kubiak Job Interview

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"It is flattering and humbling to be invited to interview for a number of NFL head coaching positions, and I greatly appreciate these opportunities. But I have decided to stay with the Ravens. This is a special organization and we, like [Head] Coach [John] Harbaugh says, are building something great. I want to be a part of that and contribute in whatever ways I can." -- Gary Kubiak, like a week ago

Yes, about a week ago, after a 35-31 loss to the Patriots in which he came out smelling like a rose despite the outcome of the game, Ravens offensive coordinator and former Texans head coach Gary Kubiak was all set to remain in that capacity for another season, outwardly happy to play the role of consigliere, Silvio Dante to John Harbaugh's Tony Soprano.

That said, we shouldn't have expected Kubes to have to caveat his enthusiastic return to Baltimore with a "Yeah but." Who knew when Kubiak said he'd be back for another season as part of the Ravens' staff that the Denver Broncos would have a coaching implosion, with John Fox getting shitcanned mutually agreeing to part ways with the team just two days after their season-ending loss to the Colts?

Clearly, Gary Kubiak didn't, otherwise he likely would've laid low for another week before giving a job status, because as of Sunday night, Gary Kubiak, he of the 61-64 overall record and two playoff wins in eight seasons, is the new head coach of the Denver Broncos.

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