MVP of the armchair quarterbacks
This weekend I was Joe Three Beers, sitting on my couch basking in the glory of another fine sports vision.
Not that I’m bragging, because I have made a lot of dumb sports predictions in my day (the worst being that Tim Duncan would not be a force in the NBA. This year I said the Golden State Warriors would make the NBA playoffs, etc., etc.), but I felt bright and cheery watching the AFC Championship on Sunday. As I foresaw in Friday’s column, all of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning’s 2004 playoff successes (8 TD, O INT) were quickly forgotten on Sunday.
All Manning could do was shake his head after each of his four interceptions in a 24-14 loss to the New England Patriots, who took a 15-0 halftime lead into the locker room. On this day, Manning could find no audible that would take him back to his room-temperature dome and away from the snowy, cold and sloppy conditions at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. I’m telling you, playing outdoors in cold climates is a huge advantage.
And there was the other quarterback, Tom Brady, still undefeated in the playoffs at 5-0, waiting to lead his team to Super Bowl XXXVIII (man, that’s a lot of Roman numerals!) in Houston.
How about my buddy, old pal Adam Vinatieri, splitting the uprights five different times, attributing more points than any other player to the Patriot cause. Maybe Vinatieri is going for that prestigious title of “The Pride of South Dakota.” I think the guy prays for snowy conditions the night before AFC Championship games.
How about the guts inside Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, going for it on two fourth downs early in the game. I admire his aggressiveness and confidence in his team. So that’s that, the Patriots will take on the Carolina Panthers in the Big One on Feb. 1. Chalk one up in the “correct” column next to Matt Brown’s sports predictions.
Speaking of the Panthers, I want to point out one thing about Sunday’s NFC Championship:
Remember the 2000 (season) AFC Championship between the Oakland Raiders and Baltimore Ravens? Larger-than-life Ravens defensive lineman Tony Siragusa, now a field announcer for FOX, put all of his 340 pounds into flattening Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon, the lifeblood of the Raiders that season. Gannon could not finish the game, and the Ravens went on to the Super Bowl.
Well, on Sunday, the actions of Panthers linebacker Greg Favors looked eerily similar to Siragusa’s knockout blow of Gannon. While Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb laid on his back, Favors jumped on McNabb, bending the quarterback’s left leg into his chest. The result was separated rib cartilage, and a Koy Detmer sighting.
Detmer through five passes all season and looked silly trying to carry the Eagles back. The Eagles became the first team since the 1980-82 Dallas Cowboys to lose three conference championships in a row. Ouch!
Here is my NFL conspiracy theory: Coaches tell players to hurt players like McNabb and Gannon on purpose, because without these players their teams were lifeless. Think about it, folks.
Wei are the champions
What were you doing when you were 14? Athletically speaking, I was happy that my Babe Ruth Little League baseball team went undefeated, the only undefeated team I ever played on. I think my voice started changing, too.
But golfer Michelle Wei and soccer player Freddy Adu are on an entirely different plateau. The two 14-year-olds are making history in their respective sports, and it’s going to be fun to keep track of their careers to see if they will succeed under such intense pressure to perform.
In a recent performance in the Sony Open in Hawaii, Wei nearly made history by becoming the youngest person to make the cut at a PGA Tour event by a single stroke. No, not the LPGA (Ladies’ Professional Golf Association), the PGA, for men! In a professional men’s tour, Wei birdied three of her last seven holes to get a 2-under 68 and even-par 140 for the tournament.
What are the parents feeding these kids, anyway?
Much Adu about something
Then there is Adu, 14, who on Friday was selected No. 1 in the Major League Soccer draft by D.C. United. Adu will become the youngest professional athlete in America in over a century when he begins playing in April. In November, Adu became the highest paid player in the MLS by signing a guaranteed contract worth $500,000 (In MLS, all players are signed to the league and not individual teams) and an endorsement deal with Nike worth another million.
Adu has had much success playing for the U.S. under-17 team and was a high school All-American as a freshman. Adu stated, “I have to earn the respect of my teammates and coaches.” You better believe it, or he is going to end up head-first in the locker room garbage can begging for mercy. Imagine being a veteran playing with a 14-year-old that makes more money than anyone in the league . . .
I think I’m going to give my nine-year-old nephew a call soon and tell him he has five years to get really good at a sport. He’ll probably choose something on PlayStation 2, but it’s a start.
Matt Brown is sports and outdoors reporter for the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at email@example.com
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