The travails of the Ryan Lochte gang of American Swimmers has been playing out for a full week now. The result has been almost universal scorn, if not hatred, for Lochte et. al, and almost complete credulous acceptance of the somewhat dubious, if extremely strident, pushback and claims of the Brazilian Police.
Frankly, neither side’s story ever sat quite right with me. But Lochte’s story, among other exaggeration/fabrication, always, from the start, indicated that the swimmers were pulled from a taxi at gun point, by people in uniform with badges, who pointed guns at them, and took money from them.
And then came the dog and pony show press conference staged by the Brazilian Police for a worldwide audience during mid-day on Thursday August 18. It was a bizarre and rambling presser, that was nearly comical in its staging during its opening portion. It did, however, make clear that there was a lot more to the full story than Lochte had told, and that some of his story was flat wrong. But, if you listened carefully, as I am wont to do with cops making self serving statements, it, along with previous statements made by the police, also pretty much confirmed the swimmers were pulled from a taxi at gun point, by people in uniform with badges, who pointed guns at them, and took money from them.
So, then the question was what “crimes” and/or “vandalism” had Lochte and the swimmers really caused? There was an early news crew, I think NBC, that went to the site and did not really find all that much damage. As the statements by both Lochte and the other swimmers, notably Gunnar Bentz, came out, it was clear that there was a real question as to what, if any, real damage was done. And a question of who engaged in exactly what criminal behavior at that gas station in the early morning of August 15.
Well, now it is starting to come out. And, as expected, the Brazilians have ginned up every bit as much “over-exaggeration” as Ryan Lochte. From today’s USA Today Investigative Team of Taylor Barnes and David Meeks, which confirms some of the work previously seen from (again, I believe) NBC. It is a pretty thorough and convincing report:
But a narrative of the night’s events – constructed by USA TODAY Sports from witness statements, official investigations, surveillance videos and media reports – supports Lochte’s later account in which he said that he thought the swimmers were being robbed when they were approached at a gas station by armed men who flashed badges, pointed guns at them and demanded money.
A Brazilian judge says police might have been hasty in determining that the security guards who drew guns on the swimmers and demanded money did not commit a robbery. A lawyer who has practiced in Brazil for 25 years says she does not think the actions of Lochte and teammate Jimmy Feigen constitute the filing of a false police report as defined under Brazilian law.
An extensive review of surveillance footage by a USA TODAY Sports videographer who also visited the gas station supports swimmer Gunnar Bentz’s claim that he did not see anyone vandalize the restroom, an allegation that in particular heightened media portrayals of the four as obnoxious Americans behaving recklessly in a foreign country. Meanwhile, Rio authorities have declined to identify the guards or offer any details beyond confirming they are members of law enforcement who were working a private security detail.
Now, we can’t compare that with everything the Brazilian police have, because they have been hiding a lot of their material and, apparently, misrepresenting substantial portions of it from the start. But everything within the USA Today piece corresponds with the various videos obtained by the various media outlets, whether Brazilian, American or international, and corresponds with Gunnar Bentz’s statement, which nobody, even, quite notably the Brazilians, including police, seems to contest in the least.
In short, the overall picture of the incident seems to be bigger and more complex, with some outrageous conduct by not just the American swimmers, but also, and substantially, the Brazilians. Oh, and about that “bathroom trashing damage”? That appears to be vapor too:
At a news conference Thursday, Rio police chief Fernando Veloso characterized the athletes’ actions at the gas station as vandalism. He said they also had broken a soap dispenser and mirror inside the restroom. Reports quickly grew that the Americans had trashed the restroom.
A USA TODAY Sports videographer who visited the bathroom Thursday found no damage to soap dispensers and mirrors and said none of those items appeared to be new. Some media accounts suggested the men had broken down a door, which USA TODAY Sports also did not observe.
Bentz said in his statement that he believes there are surveillance videos shot from different angles that have not been released. He also said he did not see anyone damage the bathroom or even enter it.
Oh, and that much ballyhooed “sign” supposedly damaged? Reports are that it was a minor crack in a cheap plastic cover and that the swimmers were made to pay out somewhere between $100 to $400 to cover what appears to be mostly ginned up nonsense. Additionally, irrespective of what the “security guards” extracted from the swimmers at gunpoint, swimmer James Feigan was made to pay the amount of $11,000 as a “donation” simply in order to leave the country and return home. That is not a “donation”, that is a flat out outrageous extortion demand and payment extracted by Brazilian authorities.
I wonder what bloviating sports columnists so full of righteous outrage and apologia will say now? Brazil is to be commended for putting on a great Olympics, and doing so under difficult constraints and conditions. But for the green pools (that affected nothing in the long run), they really pulled off a fantastic, admirable and beautiful show. Even the rain did not phase or slow down the glorious closing ceremonies Sunday night.
But one point on which Brazilian authorities “over-exaggerated”, overreacted, and failed to acquit themselves well on was in relation to the randy American swimmers. According to the USA Today report, even judges in Rio are wondering if they were hoodwinked in the rush of outrage by the authorities.
The distress of the Brazilian authorities over the emerging story from the swimmers is perfectly understandable given the dynamics. But, if an international scandal was created by this incident, it appears as if it is every bit as much the fault of the Brazilan police and authorities as it is the American swimmers.
It took two for this little tango.
Welp, the NFL and Olympics have both descended on us. There is not much up in F1, the same usual boring Mercedes dominance with intra-team squabbling and petulance. Yawn. There is some really decent racing behind the Mercs, but the crappy coverage afforded in the States by the craptastic NBCSN shows little of it. So, unless you have a foreign feed, or are actually there, it is yet another worthless and boring season. F1 needs to get its act together fast, or become increasingly irrelevant.
On to the good stuff. training camp and the “pre-season” are here in the NFL. As you know by now, Tom Brady and the NFLPA got hammered and reversed by a split panel of the 2nd Circuit. The dissent, by the Chief Judge for the Circuit, Katzmann, was spot on, but he was outvoted by a majority who truly did not seem to be particularly prepared or knowledgeable in the nuances of the lower proceedings record. Either that, or just did not care and were determined to uphold the iron vise grip of arbitration no matter what.
Be that as it may, the majority prevailed, and Judge Katzmann did not. That’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. Everything you could possibly want to know is covered and/or linked in our friend Dan Werly’s superb blog, The White Bronco, including the pleadings and opinions, most importantly the 2nd Circuit majority and Katzmann dissent.
To put a coda on the affaire du Deflategate, this week the 8th Circuit, finally after months of waiting, issued its decision in the Adrian Peterson case. It tracked the anti-labor nimrodery of the 2nd Circuit militating against any semblance of Due Process if there is a collective bargaining agreement. A sad and terrible end, and an unfortunate one not only for the labor in the NFL, but all labor subject to CBA’s.
With Deflategate finally receding in the rear view mirror, NFL training camps have opened and the pre-season games are approaching. The first, as always, is the Hall of Fame game from Canton Ohio. That will be Sunday night between the Packers and Colts. But there will be little Aaron Rodgers, and little Luck, so view at your own peril. But the Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony is tonight, starting at 7 pm EST on ESPN. The draw is, of course, The ‘Ole Gunslinger, Brett Favre, who will be the last inductee tonight. Here are some interesting notes on Favre from Andrew Brandt, who worked with him in Green Bay. If every player in the NFL played with the same pure joy as Favre, it would be a better place.
In other news and notes, the Bolts can’t even sign their first round draft choice (or maybe they should have steered away from Ohio State lunkheads that have been under Urban Meyer’s dubious tutelage) in spite of the fact the rookie caps and specs are supposed to avoid this type of situation. It really looks ugly, and the Bolts will have to either trade Joey Bosa or risk having him sit the year out and turn into draft vapor. What a mess.
In local news, the Cardinals have extended both Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald for an extra year. Both are no longer spring chickens, but incredibly productive and absolutely critical for the Cards chances of staying near the top of the league. Seems like a good move as to both, but let’s wait to see what the toll of another full NFL season brings. Also recently signed up by the Cards long term is Tyrann “Honeybadger” Mathieu. He is an injury risk, but such an awesome player and even better person in the community here, it had to be done. Let’s hope the Honeybadger stays healthy for a while.
There are news and notes all through the league. Please, bring them from your team and area. I know Scribe is dying to drop some Steelers info on us, and maybe JoeSixPac from the Niners (who still look dicey to me!). Maybe Marcy will even bring some updates on the Kittehs and Pats!
Rock on folks. This weekend’s music, Seasons of Wither, is an older classic cut from Aerosmith off of their second album, Get Your Wings. This is a live and unplugged version they did later, just because live music is the best music. It goes out, along with best thoughts and wishes, to our good friend Jason Leopold.
Just posted a few minutes ago on Tom Brady’s Facebook page:
Frankly, I am stunned. From the jump, Brady seemed to be a guy that would fight to the bitter end because he truly believed he was innocent and that the conduct of Roger Goodell and the NFL was dishonest and oppressive. And, frankly, every bit of research and evaluation of the case indicates that is exactly the case. My early analysis, which I still believe holds up nearly 100% is here. I touched significantly on why the Deflategate litigation was critical not just to Tom Brady, but to all organized labor operating ind a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). That is quite so, and the NFLPA has already indicated they may – may – continue on as a union to litigate this issue. We shall see, though they will be weakened without Brady being involved.
Having said that I am completely stunned Brady has tapped out, there are cognizable reasons for it. His best shot of success was with his petition for wn banc review in the 2nd Circuit, but that was denied Wednesday morning. To go further, Brady would have to file a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court and seek to obtain a stay of his suspension while the cert petition was processed. That would have been a tall order. The first stop would have beed the 2nd Circuit itself, which just dumped him, and then with Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the assigned Circuit Justice for the 2nd Circuit, and lastly to the full SCOTUS (which is not even in session currently).
I have a couple of sports law attorney friends I have found along the Deflategate way that thought Brady had a shot at a stay, maybe even odds as good as 50%. I thought that was probably entirely too optimistic, and not we will never know as the NFLPA does not have any need for a stay without Brady’s suspension hanging in the mix.
Just spitballing here, but I am going to guess that Bill Belichick, Bob Kraft and the interests of the team were the deciding factor for Brady, and not the thin odds. You see, even if Brady had been granted a stay, unless the Supremes granted cert, there is a real chance that the four game suspension rears its ugly head again at the end of the season and/or even the playoffs. If the Patriots are going to lose Tom Brady, it is far better that it be in the first four games, most of which they may have a decent shot at winning even without Brady, than have it be at the end of the year or playoffs. Nathaniel Grow at Sports Law Blog has a good discussion of the timing issue it Brady had actually obtained a a stay. So, dollar to donuts, this was not just the deciding factor, but the only real factor. Money was never an issue.
Just so you know, the Pats open here in Arizona against the Cardinals on Sunday Night Football on NBC, and then are at home in Foxborough against the the Dolphins, Texans and Bills. They can win some, if not most, of those games with Jimmy G at QB.
So, there you go, Deflategate comes to an ignominious end, at least as to Tom Brady. But there are other sports issues in the air, not to mention a boatload of politics and other matters. So feel free to use this thread as an open forum.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year again…..Super Bowl time! Yet, for all the incessant hype, this one feels a little flat to me. Maybe it is because I so wanted the Cardinals to be there. Maybe it is because, just as much, if not more, I wanted the Patriots there so as to drive bilious jackass Roger Goodell crazy. Maybe it is because the thought of cobbled together halftime show of Coldplay, Bruno Mars and Beyonce makes me want to vomit. What, was Nickelback not available? Maybe it is the fact that ESPN seems to have cloned the unctuous Stephen A. Smith so that he can annoyingly be on their air 24 hours a day for the last two weeks. Maybe it is because I have heard horror stories from pretty much every person I know in the Bay area about how interrupted and on security lockdown status the entire area has been. Maybe it is because everybody thinks it will be a blowout, like Super Bowls of yore, instead of a great game like last year.
But all griping aside, the game is nigh. Two truly superb defenses. For all the talk of Denver’s kick ass defense, Carolina strikes me as being nearly as good, with excellent strength in all three levels. Allen and Johnson upfront, Kuechly and Davis in the middle and Josh Norman on the back end. That is pretty damn formidable. The rest of the Carolina DB’s are decent, but not great, and if Manning is going to make hay, that’s where it will probably be. So, while the Broncos may have a slight edge on defense, it really is slight.
Which brings us to the offense. The conventional wisdom is that Carolina is overwhelmingly superior, and that is were the game is lost. Frankly, that is probably right. The Donks won, but certainly didn’t light the field up against the Pats, who have a good defense, but nothing like the Panthers have. But Manning has two more weeks of relative rest and practice. Several people watching him are saying he looks as good or better than at any time this year. That is good news as he was mostly horrible this year. I think Manning has a little magic left in him and will play well. Will it be enough? I wouldn’t bet on it. The current line is Panthers by 5.5. Both teams have all players as probable or better, so come in healthy and ready to go.
What else is up in random sports musings? Johnny Football is officially Johnny Fucked now. When even your father is saying you are on a death track, it’s bad. The Dallas cops took the report from his rather bizarre reported incident and then promptly announced the investigation was closed and there would be no charges. I am not privy to how it came to be closed without charges with a report containing such bad facts. But, generally, my experience is it means that the alleged victim was seen as not particularly credible AND indicated she didn’t want to cooperate in prosecution. The facts reported would appear to indicate both misdemeanor and felony conduct if believed. Cops and prosecutors still charge that if they truly believe the complainant, whether she wants to cooperate or not. So, my bet is there is a credibility issue. But, suddenly yesterday, Crowley got a restraining order and told the cops she wants to cooperate, and the “investigation” is reopened. We shall see what comes of it all, but the whole thing is pretty sad. Looks to me like Manziel and his ex-girlfriend Crowley both need some serious help. Let’s hope they get it.
Noticed how so many ads surrounding the Super Bowl refer to “The Big Game” instead of “The Super Bowl”? I have, and it turns out there is a reason. Could it be that Goodell and the NFL are sociopathic jackass asshole bullies? Of course. From BostInno:
The obvious reason for this is that the NFL fiercely protects its brand, allowing only a handful of “official sponsors” who pay exorbitant fees to use the term Super Bowl. Everyone else risks trademark infringement if they say Super Bowl. This is why most choose to say “big game” instead.
“But the NFL is a bully and has been known to send cease & desist letters to advertisers of all sizes using “Super Bowl,” and when you get a C&D from someone known to be litigious and to have really deep pockets, you usually cease and desist.”
Is there really legal precedent clearly on the NFL’s side here? No, of course not. The better argument is that it is an ubiquitous phrase and incidental use of it is “fair use”. But no one wants to take on supremely litigious assholes like Goodell and the NFL, so they all cower. By the way, a Stanford study found that Super Bowl ads are an ineffective waste of money in most instances.
In more Goodell and NFL assholery, at this big Super Bowl press conference, Goodell got asked about the data and results from the league’s year long ball inflation testing. Well, that was just another #Deflategate lie from Goodell and the league, like everything else they put forward against Brady and the Pats in #Deflategate was a lie. When the excellent Tom Curran of CSN asked Goodell about the league data, boy did he get a load of horseshit from Goodell:
Aren’t you glad we got to the bottom of that PSI thing with White Shoes Goodell?
His 309-word answer when I asked at his Friday press conference what constitutes a ball pressure violation and whether any balls measured under 12.5 PSI in 2015 was a study in deflection.
He didn’t so much answer as he did orally ejaculate syllables for a prescribed length of time before he felt safe to go on to a stuttering query about whether the Pro Bowl will ever be played in Austria.
Before I left the ballroom where Goodell held his press conference at a dais made up like an altar, I realized – with some help – that the NFL doesn’t care about PSI.
They don’t care to know how much air pressure a football will lose on a 28-degree evening with freezing rain or on a crisp 46-degree day under bright sunshine.
They didn’t go into the 2015 season trying to find out if they’d convicted Tom Brady of a crime he didn’t commit.
So, #Deflategate was the giant fraud I said it was from the get go? Yes. And it continues to so be.
Gronk is at the Super Bowl. Here he is, with brother no less, in a Buffalo Wild Wings chicken wing eating contest. Here he is giving a lap dance to a rather attractive Fox Sports reporter, Julie Stewart-Binks, who asked the Gronk about his Magic Mike lap dance prowess. Pretty, uh, wild, but all seemed to genuinely have fun. Perhaps the best take came from Stewart-Binks’ Fox Sports colleague Katie Nolan (who is great):
“It’s Gronk. He’s gonna do what he’s gonna do. He’s a really nice guy who knows what his brand is. People pitch him segments based on his brand, so he won’t be like “NO!” become something might make him look uncool. But I think when were we’re in sports, and there are only so many women, and that’s how a show chooses to use them… I would love a lap dance from Gronk. I wouldn’t televise it. I wouldn’t use that time to be like, ‘Here’s what it’s like to get a lap dance from Gronk.’ I don’t think anyone meant any harm by it, but the most shared moment from my network today is gonna be a woman getting titty-fucked by Gronk on a couch.”
Anyway, that’s a wrap, enjoy the Super Bowl. Music today by Bob Marley, as requested by our very long time reader and commenter, RadioFreeWill, who I had several beers with last night.
No, there is no substantive Pro Bowl Trash Talk. Because the Pro Bowl is a complete worthless joke.
This is a let loose on idiocy in general post. Which is more than what the NFL Pro Bowl is at this point.
Have fun and let yer hair down.
Music by Jefferson Airplane. Paul Kantner was an incredibly nice, and extremely under appreciated, seminal musician. RIP Mr. Kantner, and thanks.
It is early Saturday afternoon here in the comfy confines of Casa de Bmaz in the desert cactus patch. Snowly Shit is afflicting everywhere from the northeast to southeast. Bad. It is kind of sick, but I have been watching the news and fielding Twitter feeds from good friends in the afflicted area for 24 hours now. All from the comfort of 74º high days. Wearing a suit, I actually had to use the air conditioner in my cay yesterday afternoon. Don’t fret, in a few more months, it will be 110º here and they can all laugh at me.
Frankly, I would kill to be in the winter maelstrom in New York and Washington DC, just to experience it. With plenty of food and booze properly stocked up, along with backup power, of course. But I am here, and so many of you and other friends are there, and my heart and best wishes go out to you. There are conference championship games afoot, and hopefully all can enjoy them comfortably, wherever you are.
First up is the Patriots at Broncos. Peyton Manning versus Tom Brady. Yadda yadda yadda. But there are 10 other people on the field for each on offense and 11 on defense. Brady will not lose the game. Manning could given his old age infirmities, but I would be stunned if that were the case. The Pats, despite Belichick’s infamously worthless injury reports, seem to be pretty healthy. Especially so as to Edelman and Gronk, which mean everything to Brady. The Donkos, maybe a little less so because of DB Chris Harris’ shoulder. If he is weak opposite Aqib Talib, that will be an exploitable problem.
It would be pretty easy to take the Pats here, all things being equal. But things are never equal, especially in this kind of battle. There are two other factors that I think – think – may be key. First, the Broncos are home in Mile High. And that is a brutal place for any team to play, anytime. But it has been especially toxic for the otherwise invincible Patriots, Brady and Belichick. It is not that they have never won there, but it has been an uncommonly black hole.
Secondly, the Broncos, under Mike Shanahan, had the best head to head success against Belichick, Brady and the Pats of anybody. Gary Kubiak was the OC on most all of those matchups. Shanahan altered his offense against Belichick to have a balance two tight end set on offense to compensate and pitch up the Belichick tactic of overloading the weak side. This not only protected the QB, but facilitated the run game. Kubiak knows the tricks that Shanahan used to be so successful. I bet Kubiak draws off that. Is it enough?
I dunno, but if I was betting real money, it would be on the Pats and Brady. I think they want to see Roger Goodell at Super Bowl 50, and I think they will. Even the New York Times now recognizes that Goodell and the NFL were horse’s asses in Deflategate. Which I explained from the start, both on Twitter and here. Also, ESPN has a real problem with ignorant assholes. First it was Curt Schilling, then Chris Mortenson perpetuating the patent fraud of Deflategate, and now blithering idiot Danny Kanell who is literally calling for the Broncos to take Tom Brady out with dirty hits.
The second game is Cardinals at Panthers. I probably have too many emotions wrapped up in this one to be overly fair. The Cards versus Packers was tough for me. Cards versus Panthers, however, is beyond an easy call. The Panthers are very good, and Cam Newton has turned into one hell of a pro quarterback, but the Panthers are basically not that easy to like for me.And certainly not this weekend.
The quarterbacks, on paper, look to be nearly a draw. If there is any justice, they will seriously finish first and second in the league MVP voting. Newton should absolutely win, but Carson Palmer is an arguably close second. Palmer is a better read and throw guy, and arguably better passer, but Cam Newton has gotten very good at that and can run in ways that Palmer can’t dream of. Edge Newton and Panthers. But Palmer and the Cards have better receivers and packages to exploit them, by a light year. Huge edge to the Cards there. The battle of offenses will come down to which offensive line plays and protects better. Frankly, that is probably what the game comes down to as well.
Which leaves the defenses. Both are better than average on the defensive line. Carolina has a big advantage at linebacker, and Kuechly is simply killer. Despite Josh Norman, the Cards may, if they play well, have a slight advantage in the secondary. This would be a no brainer in the Cards’ favor if Tyrann Mathieu was on the field, but, alas, that is not to be.
So, what is the bottom line? Carolina is at home, which is always to be paid attention to. These are very clearly the two best teams in the NFC this year, and it is perfect they are playing for the Championship. I have no idea who wins, but they match up well against the Panthers and the two teams played in Carolina last year. But there is a hell of a difference between a healthy Arizona team with Carson Palmer at QB than a decimated Cards team with Ryan Lindley at QB. By the same token, Palmer and the Panthers are far better too. It is a tossup, but heart is very much with the Cardinals. Go #BirdGang
Alrighty then, that is a wrap for this Trash. Music, in honor of all the winter weather affecting the east is by the Bangles, with an incredibly awesome version of Hazy Shade of Winter. Rock and roll hootchicoos.
College football is done and over. I thought Clemson had a lot better chance against Bama than many did, mostly because of their quarterback, Deshaun Watson, and their defense. One of those was spot on, the latter, not so much. Irrespective, Alabama won fair and square in a fantastic game. Big hat tip to Tide QB Jake Coker, who proved to be calm and cool under big game status. He reminds me a little of Jim Harbaugh (and, seriously, I was personally present at Harbaugh’s last college game. Was in the Rose Bowl against ASU, and big Jim did not fare so well, but has had a hell of a career as a player and coach afterwards). Coker is a big kid, with a strong arm and huge heart. Coker might actually be a smart late round draft choice for an enterprising NFL team that could afford to try to groom him. I know Alabama QB’s have a bad name since Bart Starr and Joe Namath, but Coker seems to have something intangible.
Before we get down to the games, a word about David Bowie. Music, for better or worse, has always been a part of Trash Talk at Emptywheel. If you like it, many thanks, if not apologies. But a part it has always been. Because Trash has mostly been one of my duties here, you all usually get stuck with some music I select. Sorry about that.
I have been around a while (read: way too long chronologically) and, truly, have a pretty diverse range of likes in music. There has been everything from Charlie Pride and John Cash to Jimmy Hendrix and Be Bop Deluxe. And everything in between, here in Trash Talk. They are not particularly random selections, it is all music I have known and loved throughout my life. It is a very mixed bag, but I hope you enjoy it all as much as I do.
So….with a heavy heart, a bit of homage to David (Jones) Bowie. I almost did a standalone post on Bowie’s death, but I was pretty tied up in court this week, not to mention a few other things that consumed attention. But the sudden awareness of the loss of Bowie did indeed have a profound effect on me. David Bowie was never the number one band in the moving target of my rock fandom, but he was never very far off either. He was that good, that long, and in ever changing ways that made Bowie both unique and remarkable. There will always be music, but there will never be another Bowie. RIP Ziggy and David.
First up on the docket is the Chefs at Patriots. Edelman is back and ready to go full out. What does that mean, and will his foot hold up? Nobody knows. That was the early concern. But now it the bigger concern is Gronk. No, not the knee that has bee jabbered about, but his back. Gronk missed practice Thursday to get “treatment” at a local Boston hospital. Best bet that was for a serious epidural. Ouch. If Edelman and Gronk both play the full game and play well, then I will take the Pats. If not, then the Chefs may cook them. Alex Smith is not sexy, but he is scary good and consistent. And Andy Reid, while not maybe a game clock genius, is one heck of a coach overall.
The late game today is here in the cactus patch. Packers at Cards. I’m sure some sport will be made of my dual loyalties. I am a Cheesehead from very early in my childhood. It started when I read a book about a former Bear Bryant player by the name of Bart Starr and, about the same time, Lombardi and Green Bay drafted and featured an electrifying ASU player by the name of Travis Williams. Arizona had no pro football then, and still didn’t for a long time after the Cardinals plopped their carpetbags down here. The Cardinals were unlovable losers until they drafted Jake Plummer, another ASU hero. Jake the Snake was also electrifying. But the Cards were still the loser Cards until Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald brought some real game. Both should be in the Hall of Fame, and both will be I hope. Now, under the guidance of Michael Bidwell, son of Bill Bidwell, and a quite decent chap I know from his days as an AUSA in the District of Arizona, the Cardinals are really embraced by the city of Phoenix and the state.
It took a very long time, but the Cards are really ours now, as Jerry Colangelo’s teams, the Suns and Diamondbacks were from the start. The Packers have won and been everything to pro football, from its inception. They are Titletown incarnate. But there is something special about the current Cards of Bruce Arians, Fitz, Carson Palmer, Honeybadger and all the rest. It is pretty contagious. I think Rodgers and the Pack are WAY different than they were a few weeks ago when Arizona rolled them. This will be a hell of a game, but Go Cards!
The early game on Sunday is Seattle at Carolina. The Panthers have been the darling of the 2015 season, and Cam Newton has been simply spectacular. Luke Kuechly, Josh Norman and the Carolina defense are better than even advertised. But the Squawks simply scare the hell out of me far more than the Panthers. We shall see what the Mode does, but the Seattle beast seams to be coming alive at just the right time. I’ll take the Squawks.
Lastly, the Steelers are gassing in the altitude at Mile High. Big Ben has a wounded clock arm, and Antonio Brown is out with the concussion the Bengals thugs claim didn’t happen. Bottom line, never count out the Stillers if Roethlisberger is on the field. But it is hard to see how the Steelers pull this off with an O-line that allowed the damage to Big Ben it did against the Bengals. Not to mention, of course, that Antonio Brown and D’Angelo Williams are out. Is it possible the Stillers overcome “against all odds”? You bet. But that is not my bet. I am betting on one last epic Peyton versus Major Tom battle for the AFC crown. But that is just me, the games speak for themselves.
So, that’s it. Music, of course, by Bowie. Suffragette City is one of the great rockers of all time. The overlaid guitar work by Mick Ronson is simply spectacular. Here’s a bit of trivia: There is a line in Suffragette City “Hey man, droogie don’t crash here, There’s only room for one and here she comes, here she comes”. Droogie is an homage to famed Brit author Anthony Burgess and his classic work A Clockwork Orange. The original book actually has a glossary with definitions for the liberal slang used throughout the book, and “droogie” is one of the more frequent terms used. It made it into the later (and, sadly, more famous) movie as well, but it really comes out in the book. Second fun fact: As quintessential a Bowie rocker as Suffragette City is, Bowie offered it to Mott the Hoople, but they took All the Young Dudes instead, which gave Mott new and continued life and, arguably, created their brand with the public. Bowie did so much for so many musicians over the years, his greatness is in all of them in addition to his own catalogue of work.
Four games on the schedule this weekend. No time for chit chat about balls that are round, whether large, as in the NBA, or small, like MLB. This is Playoff Football baybee!
In order, we have these games:
Chefs at Texans: This looks to be a surprisingly good game. Like the Skins in the other conference, Houston is hard to read. On a late roll. But they are4 on a roll with great defense and a boring, if marginally competent offense. That has been working for the Texans down the stretch. The line seems to consistently be on the Chefs. The real hesitation seems to be KC’s quarterback, Alex Smith. So, okay, Smith is not Joe Montana, but, then again, neither is Brian Hoyer, of whoever Houston is sporting. Edge Tejanos.
Steelers at Bengals: The matchup all the howling jackals on ESPN are uniformly calling the best of the playoffs. As usual, they are a bunch of NFL league co-opted mouthpieces that make Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy look like pikers. Especially twats like Chris (11 out of 12 balls) Mortensen. Welp,back to the game, Cinci is a minor favorite at home. But they are starting Mr. AJ McCarron. Is that enough to squash Big Ben and the Stillers? Yeah, not if.
Squawks at Teh Norske: Wowzah. I have no idea on this, but a shocking lot of talking heads on ESPN and whatnot are saying Minnesota has a real chance and may well win this. As Lee Corso would scream, not so fast! I will stick with Pete Carroll and the Emerald City Boys, even if Beast Mode is not in the mix. Squawks are on a roll, and my bet is only Carolina or the Cards will stop that roll. Hope I am wrong, but not betting otherwise.
Pack at Skins: Probably the best game of the weekend. Will Rahdgahs be Rodgers? Can the Pack O-Line block, or would H and R do better? Is there any secondary left for the Pack? I have no clue. It is not a pretty picture in Title Town right now. Yes, the Cheese are in the playoffs, but as our greatest President, Jed Bartlett said, “Boy, I don’t know”. On the other hand, I liked Kirk Cousins from the get go. Before the Cards collected up Carson Palmer, I actively lobbied to have them trade some bullshit to Dan Snyder to get Cousins. Ask Marcy, she will confirm. But Shanahan was right about Cousins being the man, and not RG III. You like that? I do, and right now, if I had to put money down, I would take the Skins, and that would be a fine story. But my heart will always be made of Cheese and my eyes filled with Geezers and Starrs, of the Brett and Bart variety. I will throw my sorry lot in with the Cheese, but the Washington Professional Football Franchise has been playing awfully well lately. This is a pick em.
Music this fine weekend by the one and only, dearly departed, Robet Palmer. Don’t kid yourself, the dude and his band seriously rocked. I wish there were words, but there are not.
Most unsportsy member of the Emptywheel team here, throwing up a placeholder post to catch the sports stuff.
Commenter Lefty665 “seeds the kitty”:
How about them Redskins? Gonna kick some Cheesehead butt. Rogers has all the history, but since the bye Cousins has been the better QB. GM Scott McCloughan has turned the ‘Skins around, Gruden has grown up as coach, and miracle of miracles, Snyder has apparently kept his fingers out of the pie for the first time ever.
Here’s a link to the tune for the day, Patty Loveless doing Darrell Scott’s “You’ll never leave Harlan Alive.”
Have at ’em. Marcy, bmaz, edit this post as you see fit whenever you have a few minutes.
Oh yeah, might be helpful to post this weekend’s NFL playoff game lineup:
Saturday: Pittsburgh Steelers versus Cincinnati Bengals — 8:15 P.M. EST — CBS (free)
Saturday: KC Chiefs versus Houston Texans — 4:15 P.M. EST — ABC/ESPN (free on ABC)
Sunday: Seattle Seahawks versus Minnesota Vikings — 1:05 P.M. EST — NBC (login required)
Sunday: Green Bay Packers versus Washington Redskins — 4:40 P.M. EST — FOX (login required)
Mashable’s posted info about streaming these games. Sucks if you have crappy internet, especially if you’re one of the roughly 30% of Americans without high speed internet access. Given how damned little came out of the FCC’s auction for 700Mhz bandwidth formerly used for analog television broadcast, does it ever feel like the auction was a scam to force the public to pay more to view sports?
UPDATED — 5:30 PM EST —
Head upstairs where bmaz has posted the REAL trash talk tackling the divisional playoffs. I’ve also corrected the lineup to add Kansas City vs Houston *now in progress*, per NFL’s schedule. Wow, so pressure, much football, very relief. /Rayne
NFL Sunday Update: Okay, I have been having fun thinking and talking about the idiocy going on up in Oregon. And, so far, that is all it has been, but there are real fears about what will transpire when the Feds finally interact a little more strenuously. So far, it seems both the Feds and locals have been pretty smart and letting it play out and seeing what happens without going all Ruby Ridge or Waco gonzo. The protest and action in Burns really does seem to have been peaceful, and the locals seem to want little to do with the nut bags that then split off and went out to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. It is an extremely remote location, and there have yet to be any homicides, shootings, kidnapping or other serious criminal offenses that would elevate the issue into terrorism or other major federal felonies. Let’s hope it stays that way.
But this is Trash Talk, and we have a full slate of games. The big one locally is of course the Sea Squawks here in the Big Toaster to take on the Cardinals. Hard to tell how long either team will play their key personnel, but they will all (mostly) start and play. It will not affect either team that much for playoff seeding, and won’t affect the Cards at all. It’s a pick em, but these two always put on a good show. Skins were all over the ‘Boys early, but Dallas is catching up and getting momentum. Pats/Fish, Bills/Jets, Steelers/Browns and Lions/Bears all within a touchdown nearing the start of the fourth quarter.
Going to take the Broncos over Chargers, Chefs over Raiders and Panthers over Bucs in the late afternoon bloc. Though it would be real nice, and much appreciated, if the Bucs would knock off the Panthers! The bigger got flexed to Sunday Night, i.e. Vikes at Packers in the finally Frozen Tundra. I am not going to pick against the green and gold at Lambeau, but this could be a great game. Get yer Cheeseheads on!
As we close another year out, thanks to one and all for joining us here. And I hope that one person, long a fixture on this blog, that is right about now surely missed…Freepatriot…can see this. For Freep, Go Oklahoma!
As I write, Boomer Sooner is down 17 to 23 to Clemson. I have no idea how to pick this game. There are a hundred reasons why I ought to like the Sooners here. But Bob Stoops is the anti-Belichick, he really does not usually win big games with championships on the line. A little Dabo will do ya.
Later tonight, the other final four game goes off with Michigan State taking on Alabama in the Cotton Bowl. Most of the media attention has been on the Nick Saban mentor and Mark Dantonio plebe meme. I find that hard to buy after all these years. They are both great coaches, and both great teams. Alabama will probably win, but my heart is with Michigan State. Can’t stand the Big Ten/B1G, but they are better than the SEC. And East Lansing rocks.
Every ounce of rooting goes out to the Northwestern Fighting Journalists, but the Tennessee Vols are better than you think, and I am not going to bet against them. My city is full of Irish and Buckeyes. A decidedly unpleasant situation. Two diseases at one time, in the same place. One of them has to not die I suppose, and I will, regrettably, take the Domers. Because I just can’t think about taking either Urban Meyer or Ohio State, much less them together. Never.
Gators versus Wolverweenies is a great game. Maybe as good, interesting and perplexing a matchup as there is in the bowl schedule this year. It is also Marcy versus Jim White, which has heretofore only occurred in women’s softball. But, here we are on the gridiron. I’ve no clue who to take here, but it is hard to root for any team coached by Mr. Khaki Pants, dude is insane.
The only other bowl – until the championship game – that is really worth mentioning is the Rose Bowl. That would be the Stanford Tree versus Herky Hawkeye. I have been to football in a lot of states, in a lot of places, and at a lot of schools. But I have never been in a more magical place than the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. It is not just the fabled parade. It is not just the pageantry. It is the place. Simply magical. There is just a feeling and a vibe that comes from the location and the structure itself. Kirk Ferentz is one of the more underrated coaches in the business. He and the Hawks are class. But never bet against a Pac team in the Rose Bowl against a Big-10 team. Never. Any given year, you might not win, but overall, it is one of the soundest bets in the history of man. I’ll take that bet.
So, as we reach the end of yet another year at Emptywheel, again thank you. Tomorrow is a new year, and it will be even brighter and better than the last. Rock on friends, and have a safe and great New Years Eve.