The Final Countdown: Championship Sunday NFL Trash Talk

Yep, that’s right folks, it’s the Final Countdown. No, I am not talking about the sudden exit of the narcissistic scold Keith Olbermann from MSNBC, the news will go on just fine without him, and MSNBC will undoubtedly continue to funnel an endless supply of slime through our teevee sets. No, I’m talking about the battle for berths in the SuperBowl. And a couple of really great matchups are on tap. Packers/Bears and Steelers/Jets. There is no way to say any of the four are here by fluke, they earned it and deserve to be playing on Championship Sunday.

First up is the Black and Blue Division throwback grudge match between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears. Titletown versus the Monsters of the Midway. Hey, this just reeks of football the way it was designed and meant to be played. The ghosts of the gridiron will come for this one. Halas, Lambeau, Lombardi, Butkus, Sayers, Starr, Nitschke, the list is endless. At 181 games, it is the longest and most storied rivalry in the history of pro football, with 21 NFL Championships between the two (Green Bay 12, Chicago 9) and four SuperBowl crowns (GB 3, Bears 1). Even better, the game won’t be played in any pansy assed dome. Nope, real dirt, sod and grass with heap load of wind and cold. Gonna be a scorcher, with the temperature expected to spike at 20 degrees, wind chill down to 10 with wind off Lake Michigan and possible lake effect snow. Booyah. Perfect.

We saw a preview of the conference championship between these two in the last week of the regular season, with the Pack eeking out a hard fought 10-3 win that they had to have to get in the playoffs at all. But Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and friends have been on a serious roll since then, with convincing wins over Philadelphia and Atlanta. Oh yeah, and it is not just Charles Woodson any more, Tramon Williams has risen from undrafted obscurity to be a big game difference maker. The Bears come in as the number two seed, but are a little harder to gauge as they had bye and an absolute blowout of Seattle last week. But I have to admit, the Bears are better than I gave them credit for. Their defense is once again tough and aggressive, Urlacher is healthy and playing with abandon and Jay Cutler has seemingly matured into a consistent quality pro quarterback. Despite being at home on Soldier Field, I think the two defenses cancel each other out and it comes down to leadership on offense. On that front, I will take Aaron Rodgers and the Pack for the win.

The nightcap features the Jets and Steelers in the Big Ketchup Bottle. Another game in the elements and on natural ground. From PFT:

In Pittsburgh, weather forecasters are predicting single digit temperatures on Sunday evening when the Steelers and Jets face off at Heinz Field. That could mark the coldest playoff game in team history; the temperature dropped to nine degrees in 2005 when the Patriots beat the Steelers.

Awesome. That’s only about 65 degrees less than where my seats for the game are located. The Jets are somewhat remarkably in the conference championship game for the second year in a row and in both years of the still nascent career of Mark Sanchez. You have to give the kid some credit, and a heavy helping to Rex Ryan too, he has really coached them up. They have an attitude and win, lose or draw, that is their character and they roll with it. The brash Jets are the buzz in the air, but the team on the other side of the ball just shows up and does what they always do. Bring their lunchbucket and get physical. Big Ben isn’t exactly Joe Montana stylish, but he is a load, is tough as nails, doesn’t quit and has a proven knack for the moment and big games. Rex Ryan isn’t the only guy who can coach up a defense, Dick Lebeau has been wreaking defensive havoc in the NFL since well before Ryan was born, and he clearly is not done yet. The Jets have the buzz, but the Stillers have the goods. And Troy Polamalu, Big Ben and Hines Ward. That’s a winning formula.

Get the beer, heat up some hot toddy, ready the chips and dip, cause whoa nelly we got a couple of real barnburners today. Here is a little pep talk for the occasion. Let’s get it on! Oh yeah, and to Mr. Olbermann, don’t let the door hit you where your head is on the way out.

[Editors Note: I sincerely apologize for the link in the first paragraph to The Final Countdown, now that nasty bit of big hair 80’s trash earwig music is going to be rattling around your brain, killing perfectly good gray matter, like it has been mine ever since yesterday.]

  1. radiofreewill says:

    Shades of Cosell and ‘telling it like it is’…great post bmaz!

    I’m thinking Da Bears and the Jets will make a fine Super Bowl…

  2. Neil says:

    Who wouldn’t pick the underdog at home? Go Bears. I’ll take the underdog on the road too. J E T S Jets Jets Jets.

    P – A – T – S PATS PATS PATS. The only thing worse than watching the Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, was watching the Patriots, with the best record in the league, lose to the Jets in their first round game.

    • Petrocelli says:

      Agreed ! At least the Pats played like heck in that Super Bowl … last week’s game was difficult to watch.

  3. rosalind says:

    In my capacity as unofficial Trash Talk Roving Reporter, I made my way Wednesday night to Staples Center to see the hottest NBA rookie, L.A. Clippers’ Blake Griffin, in action. Sports Talk radio hosts waxing orgasmic over the phenom, I tuned in late Monday afternoon to the Clippers game on TV and witnessed a young man on fire, streaking from end to end, coming up with a rebound of his own attempt I still can’t figure out how he pulled off (1:31 mark).

    Wanting to see this Griffin in person before he became injured, jaded or met a Kardashian, I arrived at my seat slightly late (courtesy the rebounding film & tv production shoots clogging the downtown streets) to see Griffin charging the basket for an easy lay-up.

    Settled into my seat I spent the next 5 minutes mesmerized by the skinniest legs I have ever seen on a pro Athlete. Skinny to the point I thought it had to be a joke. But no, the pencil stick legs belong to Minnesota Timberwolf Corey Brewer, all 6 foot 9 inches, 188 lbs. of him (175 lbs. from the femur up).

    Griffin in person was a joy to behold. An extraordinary athlete at the dawn of his career, putting his body in harm’s way to get that basket, get that rebound, get the back of each and every teammate. His teammates returning his energy and enthusiasm in kind, stepping up their game to put the Clippers on a positive trajectory for the first time in a long, l-o-n-g time.

    While writing this comment, the Clippers/Warriors game on in the other room, I heard a tremendous roar and rushed in to see the replay of a teammate charging the basket then flipping the ball overhead not looking straight into the arms of the rising Griffin who dunked the ball into the basket for 2, the crowd erupting. Griffin was sent to the bench for rest and his teammates mimicked the twisty-turning move to Griffin’s grin.

    The L.A. Clippers are a team reborn.

    Blake Griffin is the real freakin’ deal.

    $20 parking is effin’ ridiculous.

    Roving Reporter out.

    (Huey!! The first New Years’ Eve shows I worked. 1986 Oakland Coliseum. I sat in the Production Office and the entire 49ers line-up came to me, looking for their backstage passes (to perform onstage in “Hip to Be Square”). Joe Montana. Dwight Clark. Russ Francis. Ronnie Lott. *sigh* good times.)

    • bmaz says:

      Huey and the News was always, I thought, kind of underrated. Very decent live act. By the way, I added the Kinks piece I was trying to remember earlier when I was writing this thing. A truly great, and almost totally forgotten, slice of classic biting Ray Davies.

    • emptywheel says:

      I first figured out I had almost gotten kicked out of summer school w/Bill Graham’s son when he invited me and the two other women who almost got kicked out to “hang out with Huey.”

      Didn’t go though. I was kind of dumb in my youth.

    • Petrocelli says:

      Wanting to see this Griffin in person before he became injured, jaded or met a Kardashian – rosalind

      Comic G-o-l-d !

    • rosalind says:

      i forgot my favorite part of the night: i can’t be sure, but i swear at one point griffin was dribbling in time to the “clap clap clap-clap-clap” blasting over the loudspeakers.

  4. rosalind says:

    oh yeah. go pack! just because the O-man picked the Bears.

    (yup, I am that petty. A pack win will only be slightly less satisfying than the fact the dog torturer will not be getting an oval office meet and greet.)

  5. Jason Leopold says:

    Oh man! Europe! I actually saw them in concert in 86! Ah hair metal and the suburbs. So many memories. That and the “narcissistic scold” makes this a stellar post.

  6. emptywheel says:

    I gotta say how much like Christmas it was, to have gone to bed early and woken up to Trash under the tree. Thanks bmaz!

    A couple of things I’d add. First, as rosalind alludes to, Obama has not only loudly rooted for Da Bears, but he has threatened to go to the Super Bowl. I can think of no better way to jinx a team than to do that, and that’s even before Secret Service talks to the officials about maybe making sure they don’t have to protect a friggin President in friggin Dallas just weeks after a friggin assassination attempt. I mean, can you imagine having to ban terrible towels from the Super Bowl???

    Then there’s this. Carl Kassell doing the Any Given Sunday speech. Again, there’s something that just doesn’t seem right about that.

    Which brings me to my picks. Since I got up an hour ago, the temperature, right here between Chicago and Pittsburgh, has DROPPED to -3.6 (I know it’s cold bc it’s only the third time this year my heat has gone on). It is going to be fucking cold for both of these games, and Pittsburgh may well get all the lovely fluffy snow that was dumping all day yesterday.

    So while I agree w/bmaz that the NFC game–and I’d say both of them–are going to come down to on-field leadership. And that’s even before you remember that Cutler’s WORST game this year was a cold weather game.

    Oh, and running. Cause as accurate as Aaron Rogers’ passes are, even in the blistering cold, I’m not sure anyone’s gonna want to catch rockets in this weather.

    I think that may give Da Bears a benefit no one is much accounting for, because Forte is a more proven runner than Starks, that one game aside.

    But if you believe that the running game is going to be particularly important given the temperature (oops! It just fell to -4, and that’s with the sun coming up!), then the Jets-Stillers gets even more interesting. The Jets CAN run. They haven’t had a real leader in their running game all year. But then there’s a guy by the name of L.T., who has actually been running like he used to of late. So if you had to choose between L.T. running like he can (and for the chance the Bolts never game him) against the Stiller’s run D (with Polamalu with a very slow first step on account of his achilles heel), who would you choose? Dunno, but when you add Big Ben as a factor, I guess I go Stillers.

    I WANT the Packers and Stillers to win. I believe we’re going to see some amazing D from everyone. But Da Bears, in particular, may surprise.

    • scribe says:

      FWIW, I think Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday is one of the best sports movies, let alone football movies, ever made. I especially like how he cast Butkus, Jim Brown and L.T. (inter alia) in it.

  7. scribe says:

    To keep it relatively short and sweet, please remember that Big Ben has played and won, playoff games, while wearing gloves. Pretty Boy Sanchez, OTOH, has no such experience. He’s from fricking surftown Ca-li-for-ny-yay and Ben’s from some Ohio walk-in freezer where football and frostbite go together like Primantis’ and coleslaw and fries on yer sammich.

    In other words, the Stillers can pass in this weather, and they will. The J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS, I kinda doubt it.

    While I agree LT might be a good weapon if the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS go to the run, if I were going to a running offense the last team I’d want to face would be the Stillers. There was a little vignette I recall from last week, late in the game, where the Ravens had the ball and were trying to come back. Silverback Harrison wrapped up Flacco, who managed somehow to slip out and try to run. Harrison and one other Stiller LB then went after Flacco, ultimately chasing him out of bounds for something like a 15 yard loss. I suspect Flacco will have nightmares of being chased by an angry James Harrison, possibly for the rest of his life like the old fighter pilots still waking from nightmares of Jerry on their tail well into their 90s. In short, then, Stiller run D will prove brutal. We’ll see how LT handles the cold – most likely like a twig, snapping. And Sanchez will wake out of nightmares of Harrison, Foote, and all the rest coming, coming again, and tackling him with bad intent.

    And, if there was any need for more annoying, for $1.99 you now can get a Fireman Ed App for your IPad. (I’m told you can reprogram it, too, so Ed spells out pretty much anything you want. Think teaching your Furby to curse….) I know: JETS fans can’t forego any opportunity to be more annoying. They consider “annoying” as to be one of their more endearing traits, right up their with loud-n-drunk, pigheaded-stupid, and predicting shutouts. An lawyer acquaintance once related how he was defending an auto negligence suit with the rare lineup of the plaintiff driver claiming his passenger, defendant, was at fault. Seems they were J-E-T-S fans coming home from a (then-rare) J-E-T-S victory at the old Meadowlands when the passenger, caught up in the moment, came across the front seat and head-butted the driver (this was back when head-butts were in, before chesting caught on), knocking out the driver who then lost control of the car and hit a fixed object. Typical J-E-T-S fan.

    Stillers by a TD.

    As to the grand, glorious matchup between the Bears and Pack, either one will be a worthy winner. I can’t really choose one over the other. Sentimentally speaking, I would love to see Urlacher get to go to the Supe – IIRC when Lovie took the Bears to meet the Colts a few years back, Urlacher was out hurt and did not play. For years he’s epitomized “linebacker” for a town that prizes them and he deserves the honor of playing in the Supe. He might not be chosen by acclamation as this generation’s Butkus, Lambert, Ham, or Taylor, but he’s in the conversation. (NB: I am still left in awe by having the memory of watching Lambert and Ham play LB alongisde each other. In Black and Gold.)

    OTOH, Rodgers and the Pack are likely the best team standing in the NFC. Rodgers is turning out to be The Goods, a prediction many (myself included) doubted when the Pack brought him in to replace the Geezer. I doubted their good sense then and, seeing as how the Geezer gave one good year (last year) out of the three since then (and could have given at least one or 1 1/2 more had he trained properly in the offseasons and gone to camp and not dicked around on his Hamlet retirement act) I suppose I had some reason. But, if Rodgers comes anywhere near how he played last week, watch out.

    As to Obama picking Da Bears, I seem to remember his having related how much he loved his Stillers, a couple years ago. I think his football loyalties are as fixed and unchangable as his team of economic advisors or his devotion to job-creation. In other words, it’s governed by expediency. If Da Bears go on to win, watch for him to show up on the reviewing stand alongside Rahm at the Victory parade. Uck. The mere prospect impels me to choose Da Pack.

    The Weather Channel is reporting, as I write this, that some lake effect snow in Chi-town has just ended, leaving a fresh three inches behind. Perfect.

    • cbl says:

      ha ! one of my favorite moments from the Montana era was ’88 Championship Game at Soldier Field. the usual bobblehead suspects droning on and on about the 17 deg. temp, hideous biting wind, and how of course the conditions favored da Bears – the whole time cameras panning the Chicago bench showing the likes of Hampton, Dent, & Singletary bundled up to their eyeballs . . . cutting to a young Jerry Rice all but skipping on to the field in shirtsleeves. I immediately wrote down 28-3, put it in the hat and proceeded with my Super Bowl party plans :D

    • bmaz says:

      You are right about Urlacher, he may not be in the middle of that holiest of linebacker tiers, but he is well in the discussion and, but for a couple of injuries, might be even more so. And, of course, Ray Lewis. As great as Urlacher is, and has been, the “generation’s Butkus, Lambert, Ham, or Taylor” begins and ends with Lewis; he is unquestionably up there in the hallowed tier, and that has overshadowed Urlacher a little, as stellar as he has been.

      As to the Packers/Geezer thing. Rodgers is indeed “the Goods”. I thought he was going to be good, but he has turned out to be even better than expected. And seems like genuinely decent guy too I might add, and that counts in the still refreshingly small and tight knit hometown atmosphere of Green Bay. As close to the ring as GB was when they cut bait with Favre, I thought it was a shaky move if he would play. In fairness though they were really at the fish or cut bait point with Rodgers at that point too and had to make a choice. They thought the future mandated making the move and that Aaron was worth it; they were right in that regard. In spades. I can live with that now, and actually could then (though not quite as easily). However, what soured and pissed me off was that, having made the decision, they way they fucked over and disrespected Favre who had, say what you will about him, literally put his body and life on the line for the team every second, of every game, for 17 years for them. A lot of those early Ted Thompson teams would not have even been competitive without Favre, he literally carried them on his back many years. They owed him better; if they wanted to make the move to Rodgers and the future, fine, they should have given Brett his release so he could play wherever he wanted, said thanks and wished him well. But the giant dickhead asshole Ted Thompson couldn’t do that. Oh no, he had to jerk Farve around and send him somewhere he didn’t want to go. And, for the record, Thompson was right that the Vikings with Favre would have beat the Packers. Well, they did anyways as the Vikes went 10-6 (won division) to GB’s 6-10. Thompson just fucked Favre out of spite and that has always been my beef.

      • john in sacramento says:

        But the giant dickhead asshole Ted Thompson couldn’t do that. Oh no, he had to jerk Farve around and send him somewhere he didn’t want to go. And, for the record, Thompson was right that the Vikings with Favre would have beat the Packers. Well, they did anyways as the Vikes went 10-6 (won division) to GB’s 6-10. Thompson just fucked Favre out of spite and that has always been my beef.

        Yea, and that was in spite of the fact that Gus Frerotte and Tarvaris Jackson were the Vike’s QBs. Just think of what they would have done with a decent QB

  8. BoxTurtle says:

    Green Bay in a close game. Pittsburgh by a mile.

    Boxturtle (Recommended: Woodchuck Hard Cider. In the beer section)

  9. scribe says:

    No matter – it would have been all snowglobe if it came during the game b/c they have a tarp on the field and are heating it.

    But, with lake effect snows it can come in the PM, too…. We’ll see.

  10. Gunner says:

    Hello everyone I have not checked in in a while but had to come in and post for this one Packers and Jets in the bowl and the Pack will win

    • emptywheel says:

      You CAN’T have the Packers and the Jets!!!

      Too much green. It’ll ruin the look and advertisers will run away in droves.

      You gotta pick just one green team.

      Hope you are well…

      • Gunner says:

        I am well Marcy thank you. I hope the same for you and Mr EW. But I like green. Of course not as much as I used to before the transplant.all right the pack for sure and the stellies

  11. Mary says:

    @8 – that Kassell version is something – when he says “you start losing things” it sounds like a big pharma commercial for an alzheimers drug. The longest answering machine greeting in history – with Carl being bleeped to boot.

    With the Colts and Seahawks out, normally I’d be at “eh” and doing barn work. But com’on – Bears and Packers in frozen tundra? Ya gotta watch that one. Makes me feel about 15 again.

    Europe, the Kinks, and Huey – your mind must have been in an interesting place putting this one together bmaz.

    Roz -you almost got me excited about hoops with that preview, but I’m just not a hoopster. I think I was traumatized as a child by all the hairy armpits.

  12. Arbusto says:

    The news will go on just fine without him…

    The news will go on but the dissemination of it will be more muzzled without KO, no matter his egotism. Fox toadies have successfulness practiced propaganda for over a decade and the balance of talking heads are equally corporate shills.

    PRO sports; the opiate of the people

    • rosalind says:

      (she’s updating her twitter feed regularly – latest is she and david house are still being detained at Quantico, officers now arrived and talking to the MPs.)

      p.s. there’s a new post front-paged at fdl.

  13. rosalind says:

    is Fox showing this in wide-screen or something? the score box at the top left is cut in half on my tee-vee, as is the right side. didn’t happen during the regular Fox games…

  14. radiofreewill says:

    Well, da bears finished the half with 4 punts, a fumble and an interception – and didn’t get into the red zone.

    Here’s hoping they show up for the second half…

  15. Petrocelli says:

    *cough* … any updates from the White phRed House ?!!

    *Ducks and runs*

    Packs & Stillers moving on, with the upstart Rodgers taking his first Title … just cuz there are so many Stiller fans in my family …

  16. scribe says:

    Rodgers picking apart Da Bears like they aren’t there. The way they’re playing (and, now, Cutler going down) I’ll be surprised if they score any points.

    That was a dubious pass interference call, too.

    Urlacher, stepping up.

    Wheels really xomingoff for Chicago. I guess the whole Preznit on the reviewing stand with Rahm just ain’t gonna happen…. Not with Todd Collins under center, anyway.

  17. Mary says:

    Maybe a smidge early to say it’s put away. Da Bears seem like they’ve already lost about three times in this game, but they’ve been Team Zombie.

      • emptywheel says:


        To be fair, he didn’t sound as woozy as I expected he would sound like–and from the blood in his mouth, you can tell he got hit at the bottom of his head.

        But still.

        And if he did have #3, it’d be the right thing to sit him, so you know the Packers aren’t going to look too hard for it.

  18. prostratedragon says:

    Well, at least they went down on a good try.

    Got a feeling I’m going to be rooting for the Packers in two weeks.

  19. bobschacht says:

    So, what kind of defensive coordinator would designate a 338 pound lineman to drop back in pass coverage?

    Looks like Chicago has a good backup QB for next year, and that Todd Collins needs to look for a new line of work.

    Bob in AZ

    • Mary says:


      This just in from the WH.

      “Bears? What Bears? I’ve always been a Steelers fan. All my towels are terrible.”

  20. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Yawn. How about that last Manchester United match, though, eh? Five nil over Birmingham. Smashing.

  21. scribe says:

    Sweet Jeebus, that felt way too close for comfort.

    And, oh, yeah: There’s no crying in football, Rex.

  22. bobschacht says:

    OK, so its gonna be Packers vs. Steelers (How much more Rust-belt can you get?)

    I’m gonna predict that the Steelers will win, although I’ll be cheering for Los Packadores de la Baya Verde. Here’s why: The Packers seem good at coming up with a game plan, and taking the early lead, and then relying on their defense to protect that lead. On the other hand, the Steelers seem better at improvising on offense during playoff games. Big Ben has more playoff experience than Mr. Rodgers.

    But wasn’t it awfully nice of Mr. Rodgers to wait until that old guy, Mr. Favre, was safely out to pasture before declaring the Middle West his very own Neighborhood? Wasn’t that terribly sweet of him?

    Bob in AZ

      • bobschacht says:

        I was thinking of the team names: Packers, Steelers. Referring directly to the days when the Rust Belt made things of Steel, and packed and shipped them.

        Well, OK, what the “Packers” originally packed and shipped was cans of meat. But what the hey, at least they actually made stuff.

        [Detroit] “Lions”? Buffalo “Bills”? What do Lions and Bills have to do with the Rust belt?

        Bob in AZ

  23. prostratedragon says:

    From Yves’s Monday links:

    Judges to weigh mortgage document destruction

    Federal bankruptcy judges in Delaware are due to hold separate hearings Monday on requests by two defunct subprime mortgage lenders to destroy thousands of boxes or original loan documents.

    The requests, by trustees liquidating Mortgage Lenders Network USA and American Home Mortgage, come despite intense concerns that paperwork critical to foreclosures and securitized investments may be lost.

    Seems that storage costs for the boxes of papers soar into the tens of thousands of dollars per month. Also, they present a fire hazard.

    Readin’ music (probably NSFW cover art):

    Desilusión, Gotan Project

  24. rosalind says:

    hee hee hee:

    After the Green Bay Packers’ 21-14 victory over the Chicago Bears in Sunday’s NFC Championship game, Packers safety Charles Woodson called out President Barack Obama.

    “The president don’t want to come watch us at the Super Bowl, guess what?” Woodson said in a postgame speech. “We’re going to see him.”

    At the end of the speech, the Packers players broke out into a cheer of “White House!”