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A Cold Night in Kansas City
NFL / NCAA Quiz: Since I was in the Pittsburgh area the past few days, name the eight Pitt Panthers who went on to NFL Hall of Fame careers. [I’ll give you one, Detroit linebacker Joe Schmidt.] Answer below.
--It is going to be one cold night in Kansas City Sunday, with the game-time temperature (5:40 p.m. local) expected to be below 10 degrees, on its way to 5 as the Chiefs-Patriots game wears on.
With Tom Brady as their quarterback, the Patriots have gone 24-4 in games with a kickoff temperature lower than 30 degrees (12-1 in the playoffs, including Sunday’s win over the Chargers when it was 26 degrees at kickoff). But nine of the 15 regular season games and 12 of the 13 playoff contests were in Foxboro.
The Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes doesn’t have the experience Brady has, of course, and the coldest game he started this season was a 23-20 overtime win over the Ravens in Kansas City on Dec. 9, when the temperature was 27. Mahomes was 35/53, 377, 2-1 in that one.
His coldest college game was a 38-degree affair at Iowa State in November 2016, and he threw two picks. [Matt Bonesteel / Washington Post]
But the wind is slated to be negligible and that’s huge for both QBs. I also see another forecast for K.C. that says it won’t be quite as cold as described above.
--The Saints are 6-0 in playoff games at the Superdome with Drew Brees and Sean Payton, who both arrived in New Orleans in 2006, the Rams coming in for the NFC title game.
--The Eagles said they are sticking with Carson Wentz as their quarterback, despite more late-season success from Nick Foles.
Coach Doug Pederson said in a news conference with president of football operations Howie Roseman yesterday: “Yes, Carson Wentz is the quarterback going forward. And in Nick’s case, listen, we’d love to have everybody back throughout the roster, but as I’ve said many, many times, it’s not about one guy, it’s about the team, and we’re going to do what’s best for the team.”
Foles can become a free agent this offseason.
Roseman said: “We would love to keep Nick Foles. You talk about a guy we drafted here and we’ve grown incredibly close with. I don’t know a team that wouldn’t want to have Nick Foles on their roster. Certainly as we go into the substance of those discussions, we haven’t had them yet, but there’s’ no question we love having Nick Foles as an Eagle in Philadelphia and we’d love to keep him.”
Foles turns just 30 on Sunday, and no doubt there are a bunch of teams that could use him as their starter. But the Eagles are convinced that Wentz, 26, is their franchise QB.
The Giants should be looking at signing Foles, but now there is talk they could be in a position to draft Kyler Murray.
--Speaking of Murray, he made it official on Monday in announcing he was entering the NFL Draft, Monday being the last day to declare.
Murray’s spectacular performance in his lone season at the helm of the Oklahoma Sooners raised his NFL stock to the point where he’s now expected to be a top ten pick.
Murray, however, had received a $4.66 million signing bonus from the Oakland A’s, but declaring for the draft does not affect his status with them. If Murray were to follow through with the NFL, though, and sign a contract with an NFL team, he would have to forfeit the signing bonus the A’s gave him.
But there are a few weeks now for Murray to decide what he wants to do. He’s listed at only 5-foot-10, some saying he’s just 5’9”, and since the AFL-NFL merger of 1970, there have been 107 quarterbacks drafted in the first round of the draft, and only one of them, Johnny Manziel, was under 6-feet fall, Manziel officially at 5-feet-11 and ¾ inches during the NFL Combine.
When you work out the money, assuming Murray gets a second contract after his rookie deal runs out, yes, he would likely make more in the NFL than choosing baseball, on paper, where despite the signing bonus he could be toiling in the minor leagues for two years, or more. And then in baseball, you are limited your first six years in the major leagues before you become eligible for free agency.
But if he gets hurt in football, he’s screwed, and you look at that fragile body and wonder.
Personally, I don’t understand the sudden talk the Giants could try to grab Murray over Dwayne Haskins. Yes, pairing Murray and Barkley is enticing (along with Odell Beckham Jr., assuming the team retains him), but Haskins just seems like a far more stable, long-term choice.
--The Jets hiring of Adam Gase to be their next head coach has been followed up with the apparent signing of Gregg Williams to be defensive coordinator. I love the move...all Jets fans should.
Yes, Williams is a controversial figure considering his role in the Bountygate scandal with the Saints years ago, but he’s an aggressive, in-your-face coach known for an attacking defense and his players run through walls for the guy. The combination with the equally aggressive Gase, hopefully working his magic with the offense, his specialty, is just what this franchise needs.
But now it’s up to GM Mike Maccagnan to get these two some players.
--One more on the college front...former Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush announced he intends to transfer to Central Florida for the 2019 season and will have immediate eligibility as a grad transfer.
College Basketball Review
AP Poll (Jan. 14)
1. Duke (36) 14-1
2. Michigan (9) 17-0
3. Tennessee (13) 14-1
4. Virginia (6) 15-0
5. Gonzaga 16-2
6. Michigan State 15-2
7. Kansas 14-2
8,. Texas Tech 15-1
9. Virginia Tech 14-1
10. Nevada 16-1
15. Marquette 14-3...up six
16. Buffalo 15-1
17. N.C. State 14-2
18. Ole Miss 13-2
19. Maryland 14-3
22. Villanova 13-4
--So then Monday, Syracuse (12-5) upset Duke in Durham, 95-91 in overtime. Yes, Cam Reddish was out for the Blue Devils with flu-like symptoms, and point guard Tre Jones suffered a shoulder injury 5 ½ minutes into the game that Coach K said after would keep Jones “out for a while,” but it was still a classic win for Jim Boeheim and the Orange, as it virtually guarantees they are in the NCAA field once again, and no doubt they’ll then make a little run as they always seem to do.
But there were some bizarre stats for Duke in this one. With Reddish out, Jack White got extensive playing time and he was 0-for-10 from the field, all three-point attempts, while RJ Barrett was 8-of-30 from the field, including 4-for-17 from downtown, the Blue Devils 9-of-43 from three overall.
Zion Williamson, despite the Syracuse vaunted 2-3 zone being packed around him, still had 35 points.
The loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium was the first for Duke as an AP No. 1 team to an opponent other than North Carolina.
Syracuse had lost two nights earlier in a pathetic performance to Georgia Tech and came into the Duke game as 17-point underdogs.
Also Monday, Pitt (12-5) beat 11 Florida State 75-62.
--Tuesday, 4 Virginia and 9 Virginia Tech squared off and the Cavaliers ran away with it, 81-59, hitting 13 of 24 from downtown. That’s tough to beat.
My Bar Chat “Pick to Click” Nevada Wolfpack edged Boise State (8-9) 72-71 on the road, as Nevada’s rough patch continues.
LSU (12-3) beat Ole Miss 83-69.
And little ol’ Wake Forest (8-8) upset 17 N.C. State at home, 71-67. I picked up the coverage of this one with the Deacs ahead 51-29 with 17:30 to play in the second half, and, boy, you knew a collapse was coming.
Sure enough, it was 58-58 in the blink of an eye, but then the Deacs stiffened to win their first conference game in four attempts. So we’re looking at 1-17, not 0-18.
--James Harden truly has been a one-man wrecking crew at Houston (25-18), as he puts together a streak not seen since the days of Wilt Chamberlain.
Monday, in a 112-94 win over Memphis, Harden scored 57 points to break his tie with Kobe Bryant and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for longest streak of 30-plus points, 17 games, since Wilt Chamberlain.
Chamberlain was in a class by himself in this regard, with 30-point streaks of 20, 25, 31 and 65 games in his career, according to Basketball-Reference.com. The longest one, which came during the 1961-62 season, is clearly unbreakable. As USA TODAY pointed out, that streak of 65 was bookended by games against Bill Russell, who held Wilt to 28 points before the streak began, and then 26 to end it.
Back to Harden, his season scoring average is up to 34.8, Steph Curry next at 29.5.
Sunday, he scored 38 points to match Kobe’s streak at 16 in a 116-109 loss at Orlando, but in that one, Harden was just 1-for-17 from three, tying for the most 3-point misses in a game in NBA history.
--Golden State scored an NBA-record 51 points in the first quarter on the way to a 142-111 rout of Denver last night. Klay Thompson and Steph Curry each scored 31 points, 13 of 21 combined from three, while playing only 25 and 30 minutes, respectively.
The Warriors, 30-14, regained the top spot in the West, Denver dropping to 29-14.
--According to various reports, the Phillies seem hell-bent on landing Bryce Harper, after he spent five hours with them Saturday in Las Vegas.
There had been talk the Nationals were back in the conversation, but Washington’s interest appears to have waned.
The Phils are also in the hunt for Manny Machado and it will be hugely disappointing to followers of the franchise if they fail to land either.
As for the Yankees, I agree with those who say Harper is a perfect fit. They could yet emerge at the last second.
Meanwhile, the White Sox have that offer out to Machado, eight years guaranteed, reportedly at $30 million per.
--We note the passing of former Yankees pitching great Mel Stottlemyre, who died at the age of 77 on Sunday.
Stottlemyre was 164-139, 2.97 ERA, 40 shutouts, for the Yankees from 1964-74, a 3-time 20-game winner and 5-time All-Star, who from 1965-73 threw at least 250+ innings each season.
But for many, Stottlemyre was better known as the pitching coach of the 1986 World Series Champion Mets, and then as a fixture in the same role for the Yankees during the glory days.
Former manager Joe Torre, in a statement Monday, called Stottlemyre “the toughest man I have ever met.”
Ken Davidoff / New York Post
“As the Yankees’ fortunes turned after 2000, the championship spigot turned off and postseason disappointments becoming the new norm, Stottlemyre treated The Boss’ increasingly frequent public harangues with a mixture of contempt and defiance. Having already been estranged from the Yankees for over two decades following his 1975 release – in the interim, he worked as the Mets’ pitching coach from 1984-93 and won a ring in 1986 – he didn’t give Steinbrenner the satisfaction of firing back with insults. Rather, he would smile and offer variations of ‘I’ve been through worse.’”
Stottlemyre lost an 11-year-old son to leukemia in 1981, and then battled multiple myeloma, the blood cancer, for more than a quarter of his life. He kept quiet for nearly a year after doctors first detected the disease in 1999, and then finally had to miss time with the 2000 Yankees as he underwent treatment.
--Andy Murray lost his first-round match in the Australian Open to Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut, who closed Murray out 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-2 in 4 hours 9 minutes.
So Murray rallied back from being down two sets to force a fifth.
In an on-court interview, Murray said, “If this was my last match, an amazing way to end. I gave literally everything I had.”
Last Friday, in an interview before the tournament started, Murray said this might be the last go for him, and that he didn’t know if his bad hip would allow him to end his career at Wimbledon as he hopes. But after Monday’s loss, he said he didn’t know yet.
Murray has to decide whether to play through pain without surgery in order to make it to Wimbledon as a last hurrah, or perhaps to have a hip resurfacing operation that would give him a shot at continuing his career after rehab. He said he would make his decision in the next week or so.
There’s also the chance he wouldn’t recover from the operation well enough to play anyway again, but it’s about quality of life.
--My Tottenham Spurs were just dealt a big blow, as it was discovered Harry Kane suffered ankle ligament damage on a late tackle by Manchester United’s Phil Jones at the end of Sunday’s 1-0 home defeat to United. Kane didn’t know until Tuesday, as he had to wait for the swelling to go down before getting the ankle scanned.
So Kane is out at least two months...and now a top four finish for the Spurs is very much in doubt. Plus Kane will now miss Tottenham’s two matches against Dortmund in the Champions League.
And key teammate Son Heung-Min is away at the Asian Cup for his native South Korea, thus the timing of Kane’s injury is potentially devastating. We’ll see just how good manager Mauricio Pochettino is the next two months.
--After I went to post Sunday, Matt Kuchar wrapped up the ninth title of his PGA Tour career, second of the season, at Waialae in the Sony Open.
Jordan Spieth, after a long layoff, missed the cut in this event, another worrisome sign, as his world ranking continues to plummet, Spieth now No. 18.
--The upcoming Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is moving its publication date, pushing it from February to May, closer to bikini-weather.
As the editor of the issue, MJ Day, told the Associated Press, “It’s always hard to think about buying a swimsuit when its 18 degrees out.”
Day added, May is the time when many readers start to think about beaches and pools, while the switch also unlocks other locations in the world for the models and photographers, who usually need to have wrapped up photographing eight weeks before the issue goes to print.
--We note the passing of legendary Broadway actress Carol Channing, 97.
What an institution. For those of us of a certain age, during the 1960s and 70s, she was as big of a celebrity, in the purest sense, as we had, with her outsized personality. Channing was on every talk show, and variety hour, usually doing a tune from “Hello, Dolly!” – which she appeared in for almost 5,000 performances on Broadway.
As an obituary in the New York Post noted: “The role was so iconic she was often invited to perform at major events, including the 1964 Democratic convention where she sang ‘Hello, Lyndon,’ for Lyndon B. Johnson’s campaign.”
Channing grew up in San Francisco, but followed her dream of performing on stage by majoring in drama and dance at Bennington College in Vermont. From there it was on to New York and the rest was history.
In 1995, she was the recipient of the 1995 Lifetime Achievement Tony Award.
Channing, in discussing her love affair with live performances, told The Post in 2009: “Some people don’t realize what a delicate craft it is. It’s an art to reach the audience. They’ve saved their hard-earned money, gotten babysitters, driven in from everywhere – long distances, short distances, gotten on the subway.
“All you know is you’ve got to reach them. You’ve got to keep your mind on lifting their lives, not my life. I’m not there for my own pleasure.”
--The NFL finally solidified its halftime show lineup, announcing Maroon 5 will be joined by rappers Travis Scott and Big Boi.
Scott released a statement on Sunday announcing that he and the NFL will partner on a $500,000 donation to the social justice group Dream Corps – a move the New York Times’ Gabe Cohn says “seems to be aimed at stemming a backlash from groups that have criticized the (NFL’s) policies.”
With the game held at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Big Boi makes the bill as a member of the Atlanta rap group Outkast.
The NFL had been in a box after long ago announcing Maroon 5, amid the skirmish over sports and politics, as the NFL’s treatment of Colin Kaepernick and others was criticized.
The Rev. Al Sharpton blasted Scott, saying the rapper “should do what a lot of other major artists have done – say, ‘I’m not going to participate.’”
Top 3 songs for the week 1/18/69: #1 “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” (Marvin Gaye) #2 “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” (Diana Ross and The Supreme & The Temptations) #3 “Soulful Strut” (Young-Holt Unlimited)...and...#4 “Crimson And Clover” (Tommy James and The Shondels) #5 “Hooked On A Feeling” (B.J. Thomas) #6 “Wichita Lineman” (Glen Campbell...in my all-time top ten) #7 “For Once In My Life” (Stevie Wonder) #8 “Touch Me” (The Doors) #9 “Worst That Could Happen” (Brooklyn Bridge) #10 “Son-Of-A Preacher Man” (Dusty Springfield...another ‘A’ week...)
NFL / NCAA Quiz Answer: Eight Pitt Panthers to go on to NFL Hall of Fame careers...
Mike Ditka, Chris Doleman, Tony Dorsett, Russ Grimm, Rickey Jackson, Dan Marino, Curtis Martin, and Joe Schmidt.
Next Bar Chat, Monday.