Posts Tagged ‘football’
I’ve been reading about the United Football League considering moving from fall to spring as a way to save itself from its self-inflicted wounds. One guy in particular caught my attention when he wrote “Those of us that remember the original USFL know that spring football can work.” (I know, “the Examiner.” Hah.)
Only the USFL didn’t really “work.” It lost millions of dollars, moved, merged, swapped and folded franchises at a moment’s notice, had gradual and inexorable TV ratings erosion and reached a point where its $1.36 billion antitrust lawsuit against the NFL was literally its only lifeline. I remember the original USFL. It didn’t work. Nor has spring football worked, ever.
Look, I loved the USFL and lived and died with the Tampa Bay Bandits. They were fun, they were exciting, they were innovative and (perhaps most importantly) they were winners, right at a time when the NFL’s Buccaneers were entering their 12 straight years of double-digit loss seasons. But I was 18-20 years old when they existed. I long for a lot of things I had when I was 19 (chief among them, perhaps, a 30-inch waist).
We tend to romanticize the USFL the way we romanticize That Hot Chick We Dated That One Summer (she was batshit crazy) and That Great Bar We Used To Go To In College (it was a dive). That Football League That Played In The Spring was fun, different, quirky, and, for a lot of us, came at an impressionable time when we still believed that things challenging the status quo were not only possible, they were easy.
The USFL didn’t “work” in the spring. The UFL isn’t “working” at all, and won’t “work” no matter what time of year they play. Not with today’s sporting landscape, not with all the readily-available football that exists today, and certainly not with this bunch running the show.
This thorough article in the Omaha World-Herald does a great job of laying out the issues and showing you how delusional the league’s owners can be at times.
“Our goal is to retool our proposals and build to a minimum of six teams in cities like Omaha, Sacramento and Norfolk, Virginia, where people want you and like you and love football. With that package, you can get a good television contract.”
No, Paul Pelosi, you can’t. You can’t get a “good” (read: “lucrative”) television contract with teams in cities like Omaha (where they’d be hard-pressed to play in the spring), Sacramento and Norfolk. It’s not happening. TV is about eyeballs and there aren’t going to be enough eyeballs watching Sacramento against Norfolk to bring in the money to close the budget gap for the UFL (which has reportedly lost $120 million in three years). And, no, Dennis Green, it’s no tragedy that there’s no place for guys who aren’t good enough to make the NFL to play professional football. Or to coach it, for that matter.
If there’s anything the NFL’s record-setting TV ratings, international initiatives and crowd figures have taught us, it’s that there’s always a market for more NFL football. And if there’s anything the alphabet soup of leagues that have come and gone over the years has proven, it’s that there’s no real market for after-market football.
Apparently on tonight’s Inside the NFL, Phil Simms made a point of saying Bronco quarterback Tim Tebow got “cut a lot of slack” for his 13 of 27, 161-yard, 2 touchdown game (the bulk of which came in the last five minutes) in – HELLO – an actual win by his team on Sunday.
“If Joe Flacco, Mark Sanchez, any of those guys played a game like that, how would it have been taken? You know, even in their rookie years, they would have been destroyed for it.”
Yes, Phil, indeed. Had Mark Sanchez, say, gone 7 for 15 for 104 yards and a touchdown in a narrow victory over a bad team, he’d have been laughed out of the league. Even as a rookie.
Well, what do you know? Turns out Sanchez didn’t just have a game sort of like that – he had that game. On December 3, 2009, the rookie Sanchez turned in those numbers in a 19-13 win over the 4-8 Buffalo Bills. Did he get destroyed? Don’t see it in this recap. How about this one? Nope. This one? Uh-uh. (Though coach Rex Ryan did call Sanchez a “knucklehead” for diving instead of sliding while trying to get a first down and hurting his knee. Is calling someone a “knucklehead” destroying them?)
Not seeing where Sanchez got destroyed for having pedestrian numbers in a game his team won.
How about Flacco? What if you had to go all the way back to….October 2nd of this year to find Flacco having a 10-for-31, 163 yard, 1 interception performance in a win? Man, I’ll bet his coach, John Harbaugh, really lit into him after that performance.
“I think we played against a really good defense, and you want to be smart about the kind of throws you make when you have the corners out there covering receivers real tight. Do you want to know what I remember? I remember the third down completion to LaQuan Williams, where we were running the ball about 14 times in a row, and then we got that third down conversion to get about three more minutes off the clock. So, to me that was a great throw and a great catch against really good corners. Credit our offense for finding a way to win a game.”
Well, yeah, you can choose to remember a third down completion to convert a third down and eat more time off the clock if you want. Just like you can remember two touchdown throws and a run for a two-point conversion, all in the last five minutes. In a game your team won. I guess you can do that. If you want. But, really, why not just make something up about how other quarterbacks who performed like that would get destroyed? It’s television, you have to say stupid stuff.
With only one more soccer game left for me this season (USL Pro championship, Saturday, September 2, 7:00 pm ET, FOX Soccer), I’m back to calling high school (American) football on iBNSports.com. The season started here in Arizona last night and here are highlights of the Kellis/Centennial game:
(And, just as an aside, if you think it’s fun and easy to call football with no analyst, no monitor, no replays, no commercials and a 45-point blowout, try it sometime.)
Irony, from the latest issue of ESPN: The Magazine. In a story on tOhio State University President Gordon Gee, you will find this gem:
“At Miami, president Donna Shalala personally hires each coach. She studies the NCAA rulebook and weekly compliance reports. During football games, she scours the sidelines for suspicious guests. ‘I’m on alert all the time,’ she says.”
Yeah. Sure she was. All the time.
…where the CFL isn’t having labo(u)r issues and the Lingerie Football League is looking to establish a presence, comes this story: the niece of the mayor of Toronto will try out for the LFL’s Toronto Triumph.
That’s Krista Ford at right, who’s described as the “athletic, football-loving daughter of city councillor Doug Ford.” That made me think, “City Councillor Doug Ford? Haven’t I heard that name before?”
Turns out I have: Councillor Ford was the forward-thinking lawmaker who, when funding for what became Toronto’s BMO Field passed, said this:
“This is a sucker stadium, not a soccer stadium. We are going to lose our shirts.”
As you watch countless hours of NFL Draft-related programming over the next three days, just remember not to get too high or too low about whichever players your team selects. History tells us this is far from an exact science and that even people with years of experience in the game sometimes fumble what they think is a good call.
Case in point, the 1998 NFL Draft, whose big drama was “Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf?” It’s hard to believe now, given what has happened in the interim, but there was actually a debate on this. And ESPN The Magazine‘s Stephen Rodrick probably wishes he had at least one throw back. In the cover story for the April 20, 1998 issue, Rodrick compared Manning and Leaf and concluded:
“Sorry, Archie. I’m taking Ryan. Maybe it was watching Leaf against Arizona as he implored the coaching staff, ‘Call my number, I’m hot. I’m hot.’ Or Ryan running by Coach Price during his first Washington game after a completion into double coverage and chuckling, ‘Didn’t think I’d get the ball in there.’ He possesses an ‘I don’t give a crap’ attitude that has proven essential to Super Bowl quarterbacks from Stabler to McMahon to Favre. Come 2018, Ryan Leaf, not Manning, will be strutting up to a podium in Canton.”
Turns out that ‘I don’t give a crap’ attitude wasn’t the boon it was made out to be. Manning’s the guy with the MVP awards, a Super Bowl ring and a date with the Hall of Fame. Who knew? The Colts, for one. Mark Malone, for another, who wrote in that same issue, “you don’t look at (Manning) and wonder if he will reach his potential.”
Ron Jaworski, meanwhile, wrote, “Leaf has the body and the heart to hang in the pocket when a lot of quarterbacks won’t.” Wasn’t it Leaf’s body and heart that turned out to be the real problems, after all?
I completely missed a sports anniversary the other day, and I’ll bet you did, too. April 21, 2011 marked the ten-year anniversary of the first and only championship game of the XFL. The Vince McMahon-inspired football league played its lone season in 2001. After making a big splash on its opening weekend with strong TV ratings and an appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated, the league limped to the finish in a maelstrom of derision, plummeting TV audiences and red ink. But here are the highlights from the so-called Million Dollar Game:
I actually attended an XFL game, in Chicago. Their in-stadium game presentation was tremendous, but the football itself was only ehhhh most of the time. And the gap between McMahon’s bluster and the actual product was so vast and McMahon himself was such a polarizing figure that the venture was sunk halfway through the season. Only after it was all over did they finally pull the plug.
To date, it’s the last time anyone has tried the spring football concept on a halfway-major scale. The new USFL says it’s going to try, but I’m skeptical.
You remember the World League of American Football, right? Later called NFL Europe and NFL Europa before being shut down after the 2007 season, the WLAF made its debut the weekend of March 23-25, 1991, with the first game on ABC being played in Barcelona on the 24. Here are highlights, with Brent Musburger and Dick Vermeil on the call:
The Knights only lasted two years, but the Dragons made it to 2003.
Just unearthed (thanks to my man Rob Colosia), the video of our version of “The Catch” from the NFC Championship Game of January 10, 1982, recorded at the NFL Experience during the run-up to Super Bowl XXXVII in January 2003.
I was playing it straight. Rob and the other guy were playing it for laughs. I don’t know quite what the result was, but those guys wanted to see it, so here it is.