December 25, 2007
As The Ball Bounces: Week 16
BY: Bob George/BosSports.net
His brother Charlie once kicked for the Patriots and was the first soccer style kicker in NFL history. Pete Gogolak was the Giant kicker during the Allie Sherman and Alex Webster coaching eras for the Giants. Born in Hungary, Gogolak kicked for all but two of his eleven seasons for the G-Men, and was a steady if not spectacular kicker (in his career he was only one of eight from beyond 50). In one year, 1969, he doubled as the punter. Gogolak booms one high in the air and it comes down at about the three-yard line.
Don't be surprised if this week the Patriots' quest for 16-0 gets buried under all the hype that the NFL Network will be throwing at you the football fan all week long, trying to get you to desire their network more than your significant other.
And of course, debate will rage all week long. The NFL is digging in for their most crucial battle in trying to pimp their propaganda arm on their terms. The NFL is salivating over this potential history making game, and what furor, if any, will arise over all the cable companies who refuse to carry it on the premium tier of stations.
That said, here is a little primer on the network, for those of you not fortunate to watch it all the time like those with satellites can.
Programming? Three shows repeated every night during a three to four hour span. The shows are generally good, but once the three hour cycle runs, you've seen pretty much all you're going to see.
On-air talent? Rich Eisen is getting better after a sort of daffy beginning (a poor man's Dan Patrick, you could say). Deion Sanders and Steve Mariucci are good, Marshall Faulk is too anti-Patriots to enjoy at all. Bryant Gumbel has gone from miserable to simply boring in his call of the live games. Cris Collinsworth is fine. Paul Burmeister is a good studio host. Mike Mayock is perhaps the best talent at the network among people not named Steve Sabol.
High definition? Live games and pre/post-game shows are in HD. Game replays are in HD. Why the studio shows aren't in HD is puzzling.
Verdict? Nice to have, but not at the premium price. Not enough to make you lie awake at night.
Geek of the week: Hilarious? Not the correct word to describe Warren Sapp. His big mouth continues to flap, and his talent, or what's left of it, isn't enough to back it up.
The Redskins did the Patriots a huge favor. By beating Minnesota, the Giants are now locked into the five seed. Had Minnesota won, the Vikings could still have gotten the five and the Giants the six because the Vikings won a tiebreaker with the Giants. Now the Giants really have nothing to play for on Saturday night.
That said, how in the world does Minnesota play so lousy at home on national television with a "win and in" waiting for them at game's end? No wonder Brad Childress has almost no hair left.
And how about Cleveland? Another team with a "win and in" staring at them, yet they lose on the road at their sworn enemy. They could very well be on the outside looking in.
Because if Tennessee can somehow overcome Jim Sorgi and the mighty Indianapolis Colts, they are in and the Browns are out.
Drat. His left foot was barely out of bounds. Michael Clayton almost tied the game up late in the contest. But Tampa Bay wound up losing by two points to San Francisco. Just thinking about that draft pick, of course.
How far will Sean Taylor's memory carry the Redskins in the playoffs, if they get there?
You hate Joey Porter and you are tired of Jason Taylor. But you should stand up and cheer for the professional effort they gave on Sunday at Gillette Stadium. You tell me how many guys on a 1-13 team play like that against a 14-0 team at home favored by 22.
Oh, yeah. Patriots are now 0-4 in games where they are favored by 20 or more points. They were favored Sunday by 22 and won by 21. That's still a cover for the Dolphins.
Back to school: Someone please explain why we have a "New Mexico Bowl"? Nevada has to go to Albuquerque and play the home team. The home team wins by shutout. And the tiny stadium isn't even filled to capacity. The only appealing quality of that game was to get another look at Wolfpack head coach Chris Ault, who was also the Nevada head coach in 1978 (when it was called Nevada-Reno) and lost to UMass in the Division I-AA semifinals at home, 44-21.
Jacksonville, like Indianapolis, has come to Foxborough before in January. Some familiarity won't hurt here if the Jaguars wind up making the trip here.
Green Bay coughed up home field to Dallas with an absolute stinker in Chicago. That will definitely get Cheesehead Nation mumbling to itself.
By the way, I run faster than Brian Urlacher.
News item: Bill Parcells is now the grocery shopper for the Miami Dolphins. He may wind up wishing that he got hired at Sea World in San Diego. Those Dolphins will be a bit easier to work with than the mess he has inherited in Dade County.
You don't often agree with Shannon Sharpe, but he was right on when he referred to Parcells as a "quitter". No one knows that better than the good people of the northeast USA, and you can include the state of New York in that area.
Arthur Blank, meet Hugh Culverhouse. Actually, that will have to wait until Blank passes away, but Culverhouse will make entertaining Blank at his Heavenly palace a high priority after he gets checked in by St. Peter.
First topic of conversation: Nice guy, that Bill Parcells, huh?
What's the difference between Tom Brady and Tony Romo? Jessica Simpson is on Page One (or Page Four, or Page Six, depending upon your city and paper), while you rarely hear about (as opposed to see) Gisele Bundchen.
And that extends to Randy Moss. Has he suggested that Tommy go back to Bridget, or something like that which is none of his business? Moss remains the real number 81.
Take heart, Pittsburgh. Losing Willie Parker was tough. But you still have Najeh Davenport. He'll put the smile back on your faces. Trust us.
Remember them: When Tom Landry was the defensive coordinator for head coach Jim Lee Howell in Gotham in the late 1950s, he had a defensive line which the late Howard Cosell described as follows: "Jim Katcavage, Rosey Grier, Dick Modzelewski and Andy Robustelli hitting down low, giving Sam Huff a cheap shot at the ball carrier". These guys were the cornerstone of a great Giant defense which won the NFL title in 1956, and was the runner-up to the Colts in 1958 and 1959. The Giants had a lot of "folk heroes" during this era, sort of "cult favorites" which extended into the late 1960s and early 1970s. This sort of popularity perhaps grew out of the iconic 1958 NFL Championship Game, but these guys were revolutionaries (they were part of Landry's new creation, called the "4-3 defense"), especially Huff, who was considered one of the best, if not the best, linebacker of his era. They ushered in a new era of defense, and though they had only one NFL title to show for it, they are never forgotten when scholars of the NFL examine those individuals and teams which helped build and shape the NFL into what it is today.
Okay, let's sort out what still needs to be settled for playoff seedings.
If San Diego wins out, they nail down the three seed over Pittsburgh as they win the tiebreaker thanks to conference record. Pittsburgh needs a win and a San Diego loss or two San Diego losses to nail down the three seed. Likely scenario: San Diego wins out and gets the three.
Tennessee needs to win at Indianapolis to clinch the six seed. Should they lose, the Browns get the six seed regardless of how they do at home against San Francisco and the Titans are out. Likely scenario: Titans win against a Colt team which will feature Sorgi at quarterback and the Browns help the Patriots with their draft position.
Washington now controls its own destiny in the NFC. They get Dallas at home with nothing to play for, having home field locked up. Minnesota finishes up at Denver, while New Orleans has to go to Chicago. This is rather flaky, since all three teams here could lose, with only the Skins at home. Should all three lose, Washington is in. Minnesota needs a win and a Redskin loss. New Orleans needs a win and for the other two to lose. Likely scenario: Washington wins against the Dallas second unit and registers the other two games meaningless.
Beyond this? Wait a week or so. For now, enjoy your families and our best wishes for peace and happiness at this time of year.
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