OK, so I was a Debbie Downer last week when discussing the Super Bowl, but the big week has arrived and I’m determined to get excited for the San Francisco 49ers vs the Baltimore Ravens. To help me do it, I enlisted Ravens S Bernard Pollard, who fired off the following comments about the NFL when speaking with CBSSports.com’s Senior NFL Columnist Clark Judge:
“Thirty years from now,” he said, “I don’t think it will be in existence. I could be wrong. It’s just my opinion, but I think with the direction things are going — where they [NFL rules makers] want to lighten up, and they’re throwing flags and everything else — there’s going to come a point where fans are going to get fed up with it.
“Guys are getting fined, and they’re talking about, ‘Let’s take away the strike zone’ and ‘Take the pads off’ or ‘Take the helmets off.’ It’s going to be a thing where fans aren’t going to want to watch it anymore.”
Um, thanks Bernard. Maybe I’ll just make amends by handling this myself with nothing but CHEERS this week.
CHEERS for Green Bay Packers C Jeff Saturday, who was allowed to snap the ball for both the NFC and AFC teams during the Pro Bowl. It was a nice tribute to the long-time Indianapolis Colts center, who hiked the ball to New York Giants QB Manning the Eli and on one special play to Denver Broncos QB Manning the Peyton, who Saturday played with for 12 seasons in Indianapolis.
CHEERS for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell receiving a 39% approval rating from NFL players in a USA TODAY Sports poll. Considering the recent lockout, Bountygate, the officials debacle and mounting head trauma issues, I expected that number to be much lower. Without seeing a breakdown, I’m willing to bet those approving play offense and those disapproving play defense.
CHEERS for San Jose Sharks LW Patrick Marleau scoring two goals in each of the first four games of the NHL season, tying a mark set by Cy Denneny of the 1917-18 Ottawa Senators. After lighting the lamp once more in his fifth game, Marleau has nine goals for the year, one more than the team totals of the Florida Panthers and Los Angeles Kings and equal to the ouputs of the Colorado Avalanche and Columbus Blue Jackets. His efforts helped spark the Sharks to a 5-0 mark.
CHEERS for the Chicago Blackhawks starting 6-0, including 4-0 on the road. Most games have been close, including the last four wins by scores of 3-2, 3-2 (OT), 3-2 and 2-1 (OT). The best start to an NHL campaign is 10-0, set by the 1993 Toronto Maple Leafs and matched by the 2006 Buffalo Sabres. If the Blackhawks are to equal that mark, they would need to beat Marleau and the Sharks in the 10th game!
CHEERS for the most innovative mocking of hockey referees EVER! Upset about an unsportsmanlike penalty that result in the go-ahead goal for the opposition, Wenatchee Wild assistant coach Chris Clark performed a protest like no other. Humorously enough, Clark left the ice before the
three blind mice officials signaled his ejection from the NAHL game.
CHEERS for the Michigan Wolverines basketball team reaching the #1 spot in the AP Poll for the first time since the Fab Five in 1992-93. They moved up from #2 after Duke was embarrassed by Miami, 90-63, and Michigan easily handled Illinois, 74-60. Led by Player of the Year candidate PG Trey Burke, who averages 18 points and seven assists per game, these Wolverines are seeking to match the 1988-89 team that won the National Title.
CHEERS for LA Lakers G Kobe Bryant racking up 14 assists in consecutive wins against the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder. In the 19 games Kobe has at least six assists, the Lakers are 13-6. In the 25 games he has less than six assists, they are 6-19. I wonder if anybody on the Lakers will sit him down, show him these numbers and then let Kobe draw the proper conclusion.
CHEERS for Michael Drysch, a 50-year-old computer technician, who hit a half-court hook shot to win $75,000 in a promotional contest. If that wasn’t enough, Miami Heat F LeBron James left his team’s huddle to tackle Drysch in celebration. Sadly, the federal and state government will also tackle Drysch for more than $22,000 in taxes. All things considered, I’d take $52,000 and a hug from LeBron any day!
CHEERS for Chelsea Football Club’s W Eden Hazard winning the award for “The Stupidest Move By An Athlete In 2013.” It’s only January, but nobody will top Hazard kicking at 17-year-old ball boy, Charlie Morgan, in an effort to get the ball back in play during Chelsea’s 2-0 loss to Swansea City. Hazard was tossed from the match, slapped with a standard three-game suspension and is awaiting a ruling by England’s Football Association on further punishment.
CHEERS for Super Bowl Sunday and all the fabulous fried food and frosty cold beverages I will consume. I predict the Ravens win, 34-31, in the first overtime game in Super Bowl history.
THERE IT IS!